The All-Important College Application

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H.G. Wells once said, "Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe," which emphasized the importance of continued schooling. As the fate and future not only of any great nation ? but the world, is dependent on the education of its youth, a far brighter light is cast upon the college application process.

It is in the application process, more than anywhere else, that the academic future of any student is determined. There is only one moment in time when the student's stuff shows up in the admissions office ? and it better shine! Negligence in this arena leads to failure, and this cannot and must not be an option in any student's life.

The first item that is reviewed by admission committees is the student's transcript. It immediately determines whether or not the student is qualified. Simply put, it either contains qualifying grades and scores or it doesn't. If not, the rest of the student's stuff, no matter how carefully prepared or impressive ? will be tossed in the waste basket!

Given the student passes round one, the next item carefully examined is the application. I strongly advise all of the families I counsel to avoid the Common Application unless the school being applied to doesn't have it's own form. I also highly recommend the use of Adobe Acrobat 5.0 or higher to prepare the application. In my view, the PDF file format is the most professional looking document you can submit. Using the school's form and preparing it with Adobe silently announces the student's intention of making a very positive first impression.

If for any reason you cannot use an application in a PDF file format, contact each school and have them send you their application packet. Be careful not to make the all-too-common mistake of trusting that sincere sounding, reassuring admissions person who promises that the application package will be mailed immediately. Leave nothing to chance. Be creative and take steps to insure that it actually does get mailed quickly. Offer your credit card to pay for a $15.00 overnight or $5.00 second day delivery.

Wherever possible, do not rely on school administrators in the application process, and keep your own thorough and accurate records for all schools applied to. Do not anticipate and rely on documentation from the schools.

Those with Adobe Acrobat should go to each school's website, download their application, and save it on Desktop or in the My Documents folder, then complete it. Before printing it out, the application should be scrutinized as it must be submitted without a single mistake or inconsistency. The application is a test within itself, and you don't want to lose the ballgame before you even get up to bat! Close attention should be given to all questions so that they are answered correctly and properly.

I cannot overstate the importance of following directions! Each application must be submitted letter perfect! Be particularly careful with questions that call for a checkmark for the answer. Do not ever use an 'X' as that would be seen as not following instructions, and this is the most common cause of rejection! Never lose sight of the fact that the schools are knee deep in applications from qualified students and are looking for reasons to reject!

It is not necessary and definitely not recommended that you volunteer any information on questions that are marked, "Optional." Providing the wrong optional information seriously jeopardizes the student's chances of being accepted. The only thing you want to provide that is optional ? is a photo.

Given that you have carefully prepared the application, print it out and have at least two family members review it. Once you are certain it is mistake free, that all answers are consistent and all instructions have been followed, mail it either overnight or 2nd day with signature guarantee.

Although I am not a proponent of applying online, I have been assured by people I respect that the schools have finally mastered the problems they've experienced with electronic applications over the years. Nonetheless, if I were a student, I'd use the mail. The inexplicable disappearance of an application, no matter how rare, not only could cost the student acceptance to their college of choice, but the time lost resubmitting could cost families thousands of dollars in financial aid.

This is one of a series of articles by college admissions and financial aid expert, Reecy Aresty, based on his book, "Getting Into College And Paying For It!" For further information or to contact him, please visit

For almost three decades, financial advisor and lecturer Reecy Aresty, has helped thousands of families to protect their assets, increase their wealth, and reduce their taxes. During the 1980's, he turned his attentions to the complex world of college admissions and financial aid. By the end of the decade, he was already saving his clients thousands of dollars on a college education!

He has authored, "Getting Into College And Paying For It," also available in Spanish. Filled with trade secrets and insider information, it offers solutions for high school and college families guaranteed to give students the all-important edge in admissions, and parents countless legal ways to reduce college costs.

In 2004 alone, Reecy saved families hundreds of thousands of dollars! He has become a major factor in obtaining affordable, quality educations for America's students. In doing so, he has restored the faith people used to have in one another by proving that there are still people who care, people who can be trusted, and people who actually do what they promise ? and get results!

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