Ashish Patel: The dummy’s guide to college

Ashish Patel

Many high school seniors have begun the process of applying to colleges, which will last from now until early January. As such, I decided to make a short list of things that you should definitely take into account when choosing which college to apply to and which to attend.

College applications consume you on such a great level that you reach a point in the process in which you simply say “Why am I applying to college, again?” And though it may be gruesome and tedious, I promise you that it is very well worth the hassle. Also, believe me when I say that the real difficulties come after the dust has settled.

Last year, after my application fiasco was over, I had to choose between Ventura College, UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, and another college whose name I forget at this precise moment. After narrowing my choices I ended up being torn between UC Santa Barbara and the UC Irvine: my top two choices.

As time swiftly passed by, the window of opportunity was closing in. With so little time left I decided to do the next logical thing. I flipped a coin. I designated UCSB with heads and UCI with tails. Fate decided to choose UCSB. But my gut told me otherwise. Therefore, I went against what fate had dictated and I immediately picked the University of California, Irvine.

In light of recent events, the UC regents are proposing an 81% increase in tuition for next year. I can already tell that money is going to be a big problem for countless people. However, there is light at the end of this gruesome tunnel. Ironically, higher tuition means more available financial aid. Anyone who is already receiving financial aid will more than likely see an increase in amount of money given to them.

That being said, it is vital that you apply for a FAFSA and a Cal Grant. You might think you are too well off to get financial aid, but at the same time, you're probably wrong. Your family's income is only one factor in determining how much aid you get.

Whenever applying to college remember that there are tens and thousands of students that have the exact same Grade Point Average, SAT scores, ACT scores, and major preferences. The only thing that makes you stand out is your essay. Make sure your topic is something that nobody has ever written about before. You need to push your modesty apart and sell yourself to these college admission officers. You have to show these people that you are the most unique, well-rounded applicant that they will ever come across.

Going off from that, remember to finish your college applications early. I cannot stress this enough. DO NOT stay up to midnight on December 15 writing your common app essays! Get them done early. Senioritis needs to be at the very least temporarily thrown out the window. You are, as I said above, in a pool of millions of students. The colleges know what date you submit your application; and while they say the date won't affect the application status, you should still never take any chances with that. The date a student submits can actually tell a lot about them. A midnight submission deadline means they are scrambling to get everything done and might not have put the best effort into that particular application. However, submitting an application on 2:30 PM, 3 weeks before the deadline shows that the student took care of everything in advance and probably put a lot of thought into the application before submitting it.

For those of you who do not yet have the honor of undergoing the college application process, do yourself a service and do as much research as possible. Get the applications early, write the essays, and know what colleges are looking for! You can’t fail if you’re well prepared!

What do you think?