The student news site of West High School

Application advice

September 28, 2021

According to an email from the West Guidance Department, the college process varies greatly from student to student, but usually requires transcripts, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation and personal essays. The Guidance Department advises that students submit applications to between four to seven schools, with a few being “reach” schools, some priority schools and a few safeties. Programs such as the Common Application can make applying to multiple schools more efficient.

With the personal statement essay being very open-ended, the endless topic possibilities can be overwhelming.

“How far do I go into detail and what do I write about?” Hamid said. “I don’t know where to start.”

In his AP Literature class, Frese walks his students through how to approach writing personal essays for college applications. His main tips revolve around staying genuine, telling a true story and focusing on a few important qualities.

“What do you want the admissions officer to know about you when they’re done with this essay?” Frese said. “I would tell students to be yourself and really focus on what is the thing that doesn’t show up in the rest of the application that you want them to know about you and
make that your core focus.”

Frese acknowledges that approaching such an essay can be difficult, especially if one isn’t a confident writer. He suggests reading other people’s successful application essays for inspiration and playing around with different styles.

“[Schools] want to see a variety, and they don’t want to read the same thing over and over again,” Frese said.

Guidance counselors are also a great resource throughout the college application process. They can help students devise a plan that best suits their needs.

“Many students believe that if they take a lot of AP classes, get a good ACT/SAT score, and do some volunteer work, that is their ticket into college. While that may be true for some, it is not always true for others. There is no formula to guarantee admission,” the guidance department wrote. “Take challenging courses in areas you’re interested in, get involved in things you love, and work hard.”

Liao advises students to get started on the college application process early and not get hung up on the name or prestige of the college that accepts them.

What colleges you got into and didn’t get into … genuinely says very little about you as a person.””

— Amy Liao '21

“The number one thing, if there’s anything that’s going to negatively impact your application, is waiting to start it. But the stress, it’s not worth it,” Liao said. “What colleges you got into and didn’t get into … genuinely says very little about you as a person.”

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