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College Application Hacks

By Kyle Winters, Next College Student Athlete, 10/02/19, 9:00AM CDT

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Starting to apply for college can be an exciting time in a student’s life. Add in sports and things become just a tad bit trickier. You have to qualify academically and athletically if you want to be a college athlete. We all know there’s a hack for everything, but do you know any good hacks for college applications? NCSA shares a few below.

College application hacks that can help you get accepted

Most student-athletes who are aiming to get recruited and compete for a college roster spot are hyper-focused on improving their athletic skills to grab a college coach’s attention. However, all that effort may not help much if you can’t get accepted into the college you’re targeting. At many sports programs, if you can’t get admitted to the school based on your academic merits, your athletic background and the coach won’t be able to do much to help. Academics should be a top priority when you’re thinking about becoming a college athlete.

That’s why it’s not only important to keep up your grades and study for standardized tests but to also put effort into the college application process. Start researching colleges early to identify the types of school that may be a right fit. NCSA encourages student-athletes to make a list of dream, target and safety schools. Once you have your list of schools, you want to make sure that you begin applying to them early because it could increase your chances of getting accepted.

Get creative with your admission essay

College admission essays can be a lot different than the essays you’ve written over the past years. They aren’t like the research papers you’re used to writing, instead they’re the perfect place to creatively tell the story of who you are and why a school should accept you. In fact, it may be creativity that increases college admission rates. Of course, creativity is subjective, so this really comes down to a few factors.

First, college admissions professionals wade through giant stacks of essays, many of which are boring, typical and forgettable. You want to captivate your reader’s mind. They are reading thousands of applications so you want to pick a topic that isn’t common and display your personality as creatively as you can within your essay. Write about something that matters to you and don’t force something that isn’t you. And if you think your chance of getting in is a longshot, maybe it’s time to write something that will blow someone’s mind. After all, what do you have to lose? It’s a perfect chance to throw a Hail Mary.

Applying early can boost your chances

The saying, “To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, to be late is unacceptable” is extremely true when it comes to applying to college. Some admission experts argue that applying early during the early action period boosts your chances of getting in at certain schools. Some also say that this is a result of stronger candidates applying early, but CollegeVine argues that “data shows that applicants across the board have a higher chance of gaining acceptance when they apply through early decision, even when differences in candidate strength are accounted for.” Applying early can not only boost your chances of being accepted but it also gives you time to apply to more schools if you aren’t accepted into one of your dream schools. Be sure to apply to enough dream, target and safety schools.

Use the Common Application to save time

Currently, 872 colleges use the Common Application (also known as the Common App) and it can help you save a lot of time throughout the application process. You can fill out general information like GPA and your extracurricular activates and use the Common App to apply to your dream, target and safety schools instead of filling out this information each time you apply. Common App is helpful because it makes sending out your admission essay very convenient. You’re able to keep everything organized and send your essay out to multiple colleges. And the best part about the Common App is that it’s free!

Apply with a specific major to improve odds

Some majors have stricter admission requirements than others. For example, it can be easier to get admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences than it is to the College of Engineering. Assess where you are academically and what your potential career goals are before applying to schools. A hack to getting into your dream or target school may be to choose a major that has less restrictions and requirements. Some colleges have varying admission standards among their different schools. Your best bet? Do your research ahead of time and if you feel like you may have slim chances of getting into a reach school, this may be a strategy worth trying out.

ABOUT NEXT COLLEGE STUDENT ATHLETE

NCSA is the world's largest and most successful collegiate athletic recruiting network. A wholly owned subsidiary of Reigning Champs LLC, NCSA's 700 teammates leverage exclusive data, proprietary matching algorithms and personal relationships built over nearly two decades as the industry leader to connect tens of thousands of college-bound student-athletes to more than 35,000 college coaches nationwide across 34 sports every year.

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