The college application process is a
daunting one for many students. With
pages of questions and the often-dreaded
essay, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
Fortunately, admissions counselors from
Grove City College, Saint Vincent College,
Allegheny College and Thiel College are
here to help with advice on how to craft a
DO: “Start your application process
early in your senior year,” says Dean
of Admission at Saint Vincent College
Stephen Neitz. “The sooner you apply, the
sooner you’ll learn the admission office’s
decision on your acceptance.” This leaves
you with more time to enjoy your senior
year and less time anxiously waiting to
hear about your application status.
DON’T: Apply early decision unless
you’re absolutely sure you can and want to
attend that school.
“I only recommend a student apply
early decision if they know for certain
– having taken into consideration all
financial aid concerns and visited the
college – that the college they are
submitting an early decision application
for is where they intend to matriculate if
they are admitted,” says Sarah E. Gibbs,
director of admissions at
Grove City College.
DO: Apply to three to five schools,
“I would recommend applying to
one ‘reach’ school, two to three ‘target’
schools and two ‘safety’ schools,” she says.
This provides options for applicants while
also covering their bases in case factors
such as “finances, homesickness or major
change” impact their ability to attend their
reach or target schools.
DON’T: Take senior year off.
“If possible, create a strong schedule,”
says Stephen Lazowski, the vice president
for enrollment management at Thiel
College. “Many schools are moving to a
test-optional admissions policy, so the
courses you choose are as important as
ever...Many institutions hold a ‘B’ in an
honors, AP or IB class in higher regard
than an ‘A’ in a regular course.”
DO: Follow up.
“Be your own best advocate,” says
Lazowski. “Admissions counselors and
staff love to hear from you. Follow up on
your application status, ask questions
about your academic and social areas of
interest and get to know your
DON’T: Forget about your guidance
“School counselors and college
admissions professionals can provide key
guidance and assistance to students about
the entire application process,” says Linda
Gibson Clune, senior associate director of
admissions at Allegheny College.
“It is very important for applicants
to work closely with their high school
guidance counselor,” agrees Neitz.
“Seniors should make sure that their
counselor knows all about their college
search, including where they are in the
application process for each college of
interest.” Likewise, university counselors
“are wonderful, friendly professionals who
connect students with college resources
such as admission, scholarships and
special opportunity programs.”
“In addition, current college students
who have recently gone through the
college search process can be a great
resource for high school students,” adds
DO: Make it personal.
“The most important part of the
application is to tell your story,” says
Gibbs. “Whether it is your letters of
recommendation, essay, resume or the
interview, you want to share who you
are and what you hope to achieve. You
also want to share how this ties into the
identity of the college or university you
are applying to.”
NCAA All-American and three-time Presidents’ Athletic Conference
MVP Emily Rabenold graduated from Grove City College in May with
a degree in biology. Below, Grove City Director of Admissions Sarah
E. Gibbs shares her tips for submitting a great application.