Ask N NDN: College Application and Essay Writing From an Expert (A Teen!)
If you are like me, a soon-to-be-graduating high school senior, you might be getting that horrible knot in your stomach as to what the heck to do next.
It’s time to apply for college - if you decide to go that route.
If you think college is right for you, here are my thoughts on what you need to do.
Maybe you haven’t begun applying for college and writing those all important essays yet - or maybe you have submitted 12 since you were in 10th grade. (I’ve always been envious of you.)
That said - here is the most important thought:
These College Deadlines Aren’t a Suggestion.
They definitely do not understand “running on Indian Time,” so if you see a little bold printed “Deadline: Insert Date Here,” abide by it.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned about applying for that big-ole brick and mortar institution full of computers, books and classrooms (And coffee shops, they had better have a good coffee shop- I’m just sayin.)
Oh My God, Applying for College is H-E-Double Hockey Sticks!
You might be wondering, what the BLEEP am I supposed to do? To be honest I am not 100 percent sure myself. I’m still shell-shocked from my multiple applications. So first thing off - the process is a time-consuming reality. Don’t lie to yourself — you are going to have to do some work. So take a good step in the right direction: go online or call the school and get ahold of an application.
Stop Freaking Out and Just Do One Small Thing at a Time.
You know the story a 1,000-mile journey beginning with one step? Yeah, remember that thing. A college application is a 1,000 mile journey and your name in block #1 is the first step. Move on to step #2 (your street address) and repeat… 1,000 miles will be covered in no time.
You Might Be Considered a Nerd If You Take Successful Steps.
But you know who else was a nerd? Billionaire Microsoft guy Bill Gates, so yeah, do nerdy stuff to succeed. So if you are on mile two of the application journey and aren’t even sure what a transcript is … here is the nerdy advice. Ask your … gulp … high school guidance counselor. Don’t worry, their office is always empty.
Related: I'm a Native Nerd. Are You?
Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself. And Be Honest On Your Essay Question Responses.
Before starting to write your essays, take a deep breath and then a chill pill. Think about what makes you, you. Figure out your personality or strengths (and I totally think the application of make-up (see video) to include a nice foundation, a bit of eyeliner and more should be considered a strength.)
This will help you answer some of the ridiculous essay questions. Speaking of those things, read them. Seriously, read each question. If you rush through it, you risk coming across as just another applicant and you are competing with thousands of other students. Even the simplest truths are much more interesting than making things up about ourselves. Be fearless enough to be honest.
These colleges can smell fake from a mile away just like we can smell frybread. Plus, they Google you and stalk you on social media. Yes. They do look at your social media presence. So, do whatcha gotta do to present your best self.
Don’t Be Afraid To Get Creative.
These essays don’t have to be a cookie-cutter recipe full of $5 words. Colleges want to know about you and all the weird, nerdy stuff you do. For example, I Cosplay. Seriously. I love Cosplay (Google it).
“My favorite Cosplay characters come from trashy Japanese Mangas that I love to read. I love the ability to create my own Cosplay outfits—sewing, painting, carving, and gluing. I love attending Cons. It’s a great opportunity to meet hundreds of people and show off my craftsmanship. I love being able to delve into a character including the good as well as the bad.
I currently Cosplay Junko Enoshima, Rize Kamishiro and D. VA. They are all young women who have their own moral compass and have faced a lot in their lifetimes. Some of them are good. Some are not. I am able to immerse myself into their lives. It’s a great escape but I also find it therapeutic as I see myself in all three characters. I have my own moral compass and a backstory that could fill a book.” - That quote comes straight out of my Stanford essay.
Proofread: And Spell Check Hates You.
Once you’ve pulled it all together, have someone proofread your essays. Don’t rely on Spell Check. It sucks and will often leave you looking like an idiot in the grammar department. Have a teacher or a parent proof your writing but don’t let them change the flavor of your essay. These essays are a picture of you, not your parents or your high school teachers. So, keep it real and true to you but make sure your spelling/grammar is spot on.
I Highly Recommend That You Use The Common Application.
This handy, dandy online resource will help you fill out the multiple college applications without typing/handwriting each one individually (which will suck the life out of you).
Most college regular admission deadlines are by January 1st so this gives you one month to apply. Which means you will most likely wait until December 31st at 11:08 pm to start. Yeah, don’t do that.
Don’t let the deadlines sneak up on ya.
You can do this. You will survive this. They say what doesn’t kill you…………….
Cierra Fields is a 17-year-old member of Cherokee Nation, A freaked out college applicant as well as a 2016 White House Changemaker, proud 2014 Center for Native American Youth Champion for Change and a 2016 UNITY 25 under 25 Honoree. Follow her on Twitter at @CierraFields918
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