Hey there, high school seniors! With three years down and one to go, I know that college applications are on your mind. Although I am a college senior, I still remember all the challenges that came with the college admissions process. After all, I am applying for law school this year, which means a second round of personal statements, essays, interviews, and standardized testing. Lucky for me, I am approaching the law school admission process with a bit of hindsight from my undergraduate admissions days. I remember the tips and tricks that led me to Emory, and I want to pass them on to you now with hope that you will have a low-stress, successful admissions process this upcoming year!
1. Essays: Talk it out
Though writing is generally my strong suit, I really struggled to write about myself when I started writing my college application essays. I was used to analyzing novels and historical writings, but analyzing myself? Not so much. Sit down with the prompt and just talk about it out loud, either with yourself or with someone who knows you well. By taking the stress of the blank paper away and just speaking about your answer naturally and honestly, you might discover the content of your essays.
2. My Five Story Rule of Thumb
Before you look at any of the essay prompts, think of five stories that showcase the aspects of yourself that you want to communicate to the universities. Was there a challenge you overcame, a moment that changed you, a project you led, or a problem you solved? What memories make you feel proud of yourself? Write these stories down in detail without giving yourself the pressure of writing it perfectly at first. Explain how these stories showcase the aspects of yourself. Then write down why it matters that you have these personality traits. These stories will come in handy for your essays, interviews, or your personal statement! Instead of starting from scratch, you have already developed a toolkit to use as you begin.
3. Research before you write
Many colleges and universities have supplemental essays where you have the opportunity to explain why you want to attend that specific school. Before writing a generic essay, be sure to do your research so that you have a clear and thorough answer for why you like the university and why you would be a great fit as a student in their community. Write about academic programs, extracurricular and research opportunities, school traditions, or anything else that interests you.
4. Explore the area
Be sure to look beyond the tour route when you visit a school. Hop in the car and see what your neighborhood is like. Are there things for you and your future classmates to do on the weekends off-campus? Could you get an internship in this area during your college career? What does public transportation look like? When I visited Emory, I felt reassured by the safety of the surrounding neighborhood, and I loved exploring Atlanta with my family!
5. After the tour, chat with other students on campus
This was particularly important to me when I visited schools. I wanted to join a community of friendly, intelligent, and passionate students, so I took time to ask students I met around campus about their experiences at their universities. When I visited Emory, people on campus smiled and waved at me, and students I spoke with genuinely loved being a part of the Emory community. Their warm welcome really encouraged me to choose Emory. Take the time to let students tell you why their university is so special to them!
6. Go for the dream!
As my mom told me when I was applying to college, the very worst thing a university can tell you is no. As I finished drafting my law school application list, she reminded me of this once again. Be confident in yourself. Fight for your dream. Even if a school seems out of reach, if it is truly what you want the most, you have to do your best to shine in their admissions pool. Sit down and write out why you would be an asset to the university and why you would benefit from the resources they offer. Though I can’t promise an acceptance letter, I know that it will be better to try than to always wonder what could have been. Go for the dream with all of your drive and passion because your dream is worth it.
Best of luck with your applications! I hope that this advice helps you manage the challenges of the admissions process this year.
For more details about Emory’s undergraduate admission process, please visit our admission website (apply.emory.edu) or contact an admission representative (apply.emory.edu/contact.php). We hope to see you on our campus tours this year!
Katie Frisbie 18C
Political Science and Interdisciplinary Studies