Though I am by far no expert on college applications, I have had my fair share of bumps along the road. The stress that some of these bumps put on me is indescribable. I wish someone had warned me about these bumps, before I had to learn the hard way. So to all future students who will endure this grueling process, I give you my top three comments/ pieces of advice about applications as well as some of the mistakes I made along the way.
- Save, Save, Save. To say the least, the QuestBridge application was very thorough. After completing the application, I had a plethora of short answer and essays that I found could be easily modified and reused. My application deadline for all QuestBridge schools was November 1st. However, on October 30th, my flash drive, containing ALL of my essays, crashed. The pieces I had worked so hard to complete, were gone. I recommend that you not only save essays you wrote for other applications, but more importantly, save them to several places in order to avoid a catastrophe like mine.
- Maintain Relationships. This one is not so much a mistake of mine, but something I am glad I did. Keeping good relationships with your peers, teachers, community, and local officials is generally a good habit to develop. However, the benefit of this really showed during this time. I had a tremendous amount of friends, teachers, and a counselor who were willing to help me with whatever I needed. Whether it was proofreading essays, writing recommendations, or even allowing me to use a fax machine, they were there for me. I recommend maintaining good relationships in school and in your community.
- Plan early. I started taking the SAT and the ACT in the spring of my junior year and was able to take both standardized tests twice. By the beginning of my fall semester as a senior, I was content with my test scores. However, once I seriously considered QuestBridge and the schools I’d list for the match, I realized that I did not fully meet the testing requirements. I had yet to take a SAT subject test, which many schools either recommend or require. Therefore, I hastily studied for them and luckily completed the tests before the deadline. I recommend that you plan ahead for which tests you need to take, whether or not you will be satisfied with the scores you received, and each schools’ cutoff date for testing. Had I paid more attention to those factors, I may have been able to improve my scores because I would have had the opportunity to retake the test.
I’d definitely say this process taught me a lot and had it not been for those speed bumps along the road, I may not have learned these lessons. I hope that my experience concerning the application can help others avoid these speed bumps on this road to college.
— Jasmin Kamruddin, 2014 College Match applicant