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Application Tips

25 Application Tips

It’s college application season! For all those potential future Dickinsonians out there starting the application process, we’ve compiled a list of 25 tips.

We’ll be sharing them on Twitter (@DickinsonAdmit) but you can view the full list here.

Common App 101


Start your Common App early, and come back to it often. Don’t try to do it all in one sitting!


List your activities in order of importance to you. You’ll have the chance to talk about how much time you’ve spent and positions you hold—use the order to tell us what means the most to you.


Provide your parent/guardian contact info on the Common App so, when appropriate, we can loop them in, too.


Use the full Common App to tell your story. The essay is not the only place to convey interests/values/strengths.


Be sure to talk with your parents/guardians about financial aid. When the question gets asked on the Common App, you don’t want to say “no” if they’re thinking “yes.”


Your Common App is one of the first opportunities to craft how you are viewed by someone who may not get to meet you. Be thoughtful, intentional and ask others to help you compose the application!


Personalize the Process


Know your options and your feelings. Early Decision has its benefits, including knowing that you’re in at your first-choice school early!


Don't think of college as the best four years of your life. It's a transformative time leading to opportunities for your best life for many years to come!


Know your options: are you required to submit your standardized test score? Will it help you if you do? Talk with your regional counselor if you’re not sure!


Be honest. Be yourself. We're interested in the whole person. Help us learn about you, what you value.


Lean in, lean out, lean everywhere and as often as you need to! From your college counselor to your admissions counselors, we’re here to help.


Don’t let us assume. If there is a portion of your application that doesn’t measure up, tell us why! We’d much rather know that you struggled to balance a robust class schedule with extracurriculars than assume you simply couldn’t do the work.


Beyond the Common Application, look for opportunities like Dickinson’s Pre-App (available July through October) to make yourself known to the Admissions Committee (and receive a fee waiver!).


Know there are human beings reviewing your application who appreciate the impacts of COVID-19 on your experience. The Common Application has created a space for you to share your experience. Please do so and know that we are committed to providing a fair process regardless of the changes in your school or testing plans.


Be Thoughtful about Recommendations


Choose recommenders who’ve seen you rise to challenges. Sometimes, that’s not the teacher who gave you your best grade that will give you the best recommendation.


Extra recommendations (beyond what’s required) are great when the recommender has new insights or a different lens on your strengths than the others. If it’s more of the same, it won’t enhance your app.


Make the Most of the Campus Visit


When you visit campus—whether virtually or in person—write a pro/con list. No detail is too small! Do this with each school & compare lists.


Make sure your campus visit includes a conversation with a current student to get perspectives from a peer.


Hints for Essays and Interviews


When writing the essay, focus on a blade of grass, not the whole field. Tell one good story, not a mini-series.


Interview must: Research the school! Expect to be asked what stands out about this place specifically.


Nugget of essay wisdom: Your essay story should be about the WHY, not the what.


For Student-Athletes


Coach advice for recruits: Don't let parents do all the talking! Join the conversation & be assertive.


Manage the Logistics


Check your email! The email address you put on your application is the one we’ll use to let you know if something’s missing and when your decision is released.


Whoops—did you forget to include something in your Common App? Have additions after you hit submit? Send updates directly to your regional counselor and we’ll gladly update your file.


Manage the application process, don’t let it manage you. Choose a standing weekly time to talk as a family about the search and application process. That time is sacred “college talk” time so you can enjoy the many other facets of your life as a family the rest of the week.