Get Others Involved In Your Applications
This Year’s Applications Season Don’t Forget to Get Others Involved
Whether it be to beat “the competition” or to save yourself the embarrassment of having other people read your writings, you may find it tempting to keep your university applications to yourself. You may even be like some of the students I’ve worked with, whose hope was to handle the entire application process on their own and then announce that they got into one of the best universities in the world. Needless to say, this is merely a figment of the imagination.
Keeping your university applications private is a losing strategy. Applying for university is arguably one of the most important things you will ever do, and it’s just not worth it to miss out on a lot of valuable insight and advice from people who know you well. Think about it longer term — the calibre of university you get into now might have major repercussions for your future career, which in turn will impact your quality of life and your overall happiness. Getting good advice now will ensure that you have a happier future ten, twenty, thirty years down the line.
In this blog post, I want to bust two myths that keep people from getting help on their university applications. But first, a caveat: I am not asking you to seek help from any random person — choose people you trust and who know you well or educational professionals who have experience in admissions. And a clarification: by ‘university applications’ I don’t just mean clicking buttons on UCAS or Common App; I mean the whole application process, including what schools and majors you should choose and all the personal statements you write.
Myth #1: “I know myself very well and I have done my research, so I can write good personal statements and choose good schools on my own. I don’t need any input.”
While I was happy to attend Johns Hopkins University for graduate school, I know it would not have been possible without the help of a professional counsellor. I thought I had written the perfect college essay— a heartfelt, well-structured, and insightful piece tying my passion for public policy together with my own upbringing and sensibilities. The day before I submitted my application, however, I decided to show my statement to my counsellor for last-minute checking.
I still remember my counsellor frowning and my heart sinking as he read through my essay. Then he told me, “Cesar, this might get you into some second-rate school, but certainly not Johns Hopkins. I can’t see you in this essay; it reads more like a resume or a list of achievements.” I was shocked, but I quickly realised that the perfect essay that I had spent weeks perfecting was in fact very formulaic and boring. Heeding his advice, I sat down the night before my application was due, and spent three hours hammering out an entirely new essay — one that used my natural voice and brought out my aspirations.
The point of this anecdote is that there are some things we are blind to which may be clear as day to the friend or teacher next to us. My counsellor knew me — and so he could immediately tell that my essay wasn’t reflecting who I was. So whenever you write anything for your university applications, make sure to have a close parent, teacher, or friend (ideally all three) read it over. They will be able to suggest improvements you never thought of.
#Myth 2: “I don’t need to see an education consultant.”
While not everyone can benefit from seeing an education consultant, most people do. And here’s why.
We education consultants are walking libraries of knowledge about a very specific thing: university admissions. We’ve literally worked with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of students, almost all of whom got into very good universities. From our work, we know exactly what universities are looking for in their students, and how to tailor each application to fit their preferences. For example (and this is free advice for you), while US schools like to read personal and story-based personal statements, UK schools prefer you to keep your statements concise and academic.
We also know the latest admissions trends. Which schools are downsizing? Is the UK accepting more students from East Asia this year? What impact is the coronavirus pandemic having on students? We know this kind of information not because we have secret dealings with schools, but because we have dealt with so many students who have gotten into these schools. Is it possible to gain a similar level of advice without seeing an education consultant? Yes. Is it easy? No. There is probably not a single person you know who has seen dozens of university application cases, and has researched hundreds of schools in depth. You would literally need to pull together a fifty-person team in order to get the same information as you would from an education consultant.
To sum up, get help on your applications. Ask people who know you to give you input on everything from personal statements to school choice, and see an education consultant who can give you valuable and professional advice. Good luck!
NTK Education Consulting Team