Ah yes, the actual application. The good news: a lot of it is already done for you. The bad news: not all of it is done for you. Your transcript, as a cumulative process, is basically finished. Your recommendations, which you should ask teachers that know you best, but not necessarily that you received the best grade from, are out of your hands. Also keep in mind additional people that can portray different sides of you- coaches, mentors. You want to show as many dimensions as you can. Your standardized test scores should be completed. All that leaves now is the paperwork and the essays.
One bright side about filling out form after form is that you will quickly memorize your social security number, not to mention your parents’ educational history and other fun family facts. That is easy- it just takes time. The essay is a bigger challenge. I know you want to pour your soul out to college “A”, and 500 words does not seem like quite enough space. Essays are about portraying a special aspect or experience that sets you apart, but in a way that does not bore the person reading your application. Pick something in your life that means something to you. Something that has defined you, changed your thinking. Writing from your heart will show and it will make an impact.
Setting aside the big essay, the little ones (tell us about yourself, why do you want to come here, etc.) are probably even harder. 50 words? Really? Do not let this trip you up. Be brief and be specific. Use college websites as resources to get a feel for the school and to cite things about the university that pertain to you.
All in all, the application can only do so much. Being smart about where you apply is also very important. Apply to schools that are a reach, but also be conservative and realistic. This process is not fun and at the same time it is based on luck. Just know that you will be happy even if you do not end up at your first choice school. College is what you make of your experience and what attitude you have. Be excited about the future and good luck.