Admissions Officer Insight: Five App Tips from Rice University

We know you’re looking for insiders’ tips about the college admissions process. Tamara Siler, Senior Associate Director of Admission & Coordinator of Minority Recruitment at Rice University, shares her top five application tips to help you fill out the best possible National College Match application!

Tamara Siler, Rice University, Senior Associate Director of Admissions & Coordinator of Minority Recruitment 
  1. Be sure to answer the question being asked, whether it is a short response or an essay. In addition to the QuestBridge College Match Application, the Common Application, or the Universal College Application, you may be also responding to a college specific supplement to these applications.  Some will give you a choice of question, but some are questions specific to the institution.  Read the question carefully and make sure your response specifically addresses the prompt.

2. You may get asked a similar application question in a number of places. Do not simply cut and paste a previous response to address the question, which basically means you are submitting the same writing sample twice.  Even if you are answering a similar question somewhere else in the application process, look for another angle or for other anecdotes you can use to answer the question.  This shows thoughtfulness and creativity.

3. Think of the response only you can write. For example, I was raised by my great-grandparents, and I drew from that for my college essay on how being raised by people much older than the traditional age of parents was sometimes a challenge, but I also talked about all of the invaluable lessons they taught me.  Think about those aspects of family, school, your interests, etc. which set you apart from your friends.

4. Write for authenticity, not to impress. The only person we want you to be in your application is you.  Also, make sure you are the focus at all times – it is great to talk about a person who has influenced you, but make sure you highlight what YOU learned, how YOU were shaped, and not just talk about the other person.

5. Ask someone you trust to read your application. Actually, ask a couple of people. Spell check may catch if a word is spelled correctly but it may not, in fact, be the word you want to use. Get feedback from them not only on the writing but to make sure your own voice is coming through. I would rather read an essay that feels genuine with a few imperfections than an essay which is extremely polished but really leaves me not feeling connected to the applicant in any way.

– Tamara Siler, Senior Associate Director of Admission & Coordinator of Minority Recruitment, Rice University