Since I've written a blog, life at Oberlin and in the world in general has been tumultuous, to say the least. Trump was elected, which made me and many others feel like the floor had fallen out from under us. As I see the news of who he is appointing to his cabinet and think about the horrors that are to come, I continue to feel that way. Additionally, an upsetting and unjust incident of racial profiling at Gibson's in downtown Oberlin led to a protest and boycott against the store - Karalyn wrote a great post here explaining the situation. On a brighter note, one of my moms visited me and witnessed Oberlin's first snow of the school year!! Amid the chaos of this time, having my mom stay here for a weekend was incredibly rejuvenating.
But enough about me! It's late November and the height of college-application season - and I'm here to help! Here's my advice, compiled neatly into categories and lists.
On writing essays:
Write a brain dump. Open up a clean Word document - or your journal - and write down every idea you have about an essay prompt. You might find some nuggets of wisdom when you read it back. I just looked at my "Oberlin brain dump" document from when I applied; while it looks very different from the end product, some of the sentences fit directly into the final draft. Brain dumps are awesome for helping you work through your ideas.
Drafts drafts drafts! Show your essays to people you love, and incorporate their suggestions when they're useful. But don't forget to trust your gut - colleges like Oberlin want to hear YOUR voice, not your mom's voice!
Double-check everything. Make sure you don't mix up your writing supplements or respond to a prompt incorrectly!
Never delete what you've written. I think this is a good rule for writing in general. What looks bad now might be useful later, whether for another project or another paragraph of the same piece. I usually keep a Word document for each project where I put most of the sentences I've omitted from the working draft, just in case I need them later.
On the Common App:
Put your most important activities first. If there's an extracurricular you want to make sure sticks out in your application, don't bury it. Place your proudest achievements front and center.
Be careful! Make sure you go to each college's website and read their full requirements to make sure you aren't missing anything. This can include optional supplements that might boost your application; for example, I submitted a poem I wrote for Oberlin's arts supplement.
They're recommended, but not required. Oberlin wants your interview to be a conversation in which you can ask questions. For that reason, you might as well do one if you have the opportunity!
You don't need to wear fancy clothes. Obies don't judge!
Try not to stress too much. I was so nervous during my interview that I tripped over my words a lot and didn't have much fun at all. It's cool to show why you're specifically interested in this college, so be yourself and speak from the heart! Don't forget to breathe!
On test scores & stress & all that jazz:
You're wonderful and important, no matter what you did in high school or how you scored on the SAT. Before you know it, the college admissions process will be over and you will find a place that feels right for you and no one will remember what you got on the ACT. I'm proud of you for going through this stressful, achievement-based journey and I know you're going to make it out the other side! Good luck and don't forget to take dance breaks!!