Aim for the Extraordinary!

by Adaadinchezo Oguejiofor
(Missouri City, Texas, USA)

A giant Chupa Chup for a girl with giant dreams! This was taken during my Spain/France trip in the summer of 2012

A giant Chupa Chup for a girl with giant dreams! This was taken during my Spain/France trip in the summer of 2012

The start of senior year in high school is one of the most exciting, yet dreadful experiences a young student will go through. The sheer joy of high school coming to an end inevitably crashes with the reality of starting the college application process. However, there are certainly ways to avoid the anxiety and nervousness of waiting for acceptance letters or financial aid checks.


As a current senior in high school, my biggest advice to anyone would be to study your heart out. Colleges are always willing to help studious applicants who will use their time wisely on the school’s campus. Aside from good grades, colleges want students who engage in various extracurricular activities. I played volleyball all four years of high school, and that shows that I was committed to my favorite sport. If you are a talented player on one of your school’s sports teams, there is a chance of college coaches scouting you out to play for their own college team. Athletes always have a strong chance of college grants if they are asked to play for the school! But to truly give an application the wow factor, I suggest breaking out of the norm of an average high school student and doing something extraordinary.

Years ago, when I was in sixth grade, I remember watching a Japanese TV show with English subtitles on my new laptop from school. I had no idea what language the characters were speaking but the cartoon, known as ‘anime’, was very entertaining. As time progressed, I learned more about the show’s background and found myself actually wanting to learn the Japanese language. At the time, I believed it would be advantageous to learn Japanese so I would not have to read English subtitles. Although I began my self-study of the language on a simple whim, I soon became infatuated with everything Japanese. After about two years of just studying sounds and words, I started speaking Japanese more often. With the help of a popular Japanese website called Nico Nico Douga, I could integrate all the material I learnt and reiterate them in a colloquial manner. Today, the Japanese language is part of my everyday life.

My ability to speak Japanese always surprises people. It’s not every day you find a girl who just taught herself a language and can prove it by saying something on the dot. I have put this interesting fact of mine on my college applications. My first acceptance to the University of Texas San Antonio quickly came in September, and I am sure my Japanese skills helped me earn my acceptance so early.

Colleges love seeing hard work, especially if the hard work can be applied to a specific major or minor. I mention taking Japanese or Eastern Asian Studies as a minor in my college interviews. If you strive to differentiate yourself from the rest of your peers, then colleges will be ready to help aid you, financially and academically.


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Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Adaadinchezo for your inspiring story “Aim for the Extraordinary!” Best of luck to you.


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Make That Application Special

by Aaron Illenberger
(Fort Collins, CO)

Colorado State University

Colorado State University

As I currently stand, I am a freshman at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Applying to college can be a stressful time, but in the end it’s extremely rewarding when you’re accepted and all the details begin to flow about the next four years of your life. Past the grueling applications, essays, ACT’s, SAT’s, and GPA’s, there’s a four year life waiting to welcome you in. The process is not stressful as long as you keep up your grades, take the right classes in high school, and stay involved with clubs and organizations. Filling the application, to me, is a painless process compared to the four years that follow when you receive the triumphant letter of acceptance.

My first tip I can give is to plan early. This is extremely important so that you have time to get involved in high school at an early stage. Not only will it look good on your resume but it will be a welcomed addition to your application. Taking the right classes in high school will also change how your application is viewed. Try to go for honors, AP, and IB classes. As grueling as that may sound it’s entirely worth it, especially if you can receive college credit for these classes. If you live in a town with a college you should really consider taking concurrent classes. It’s the easiest way to save yourself from taking the entry-level college classes in the future. Stay on top of your grades, take classes that the college wants, and manage your deadlines especially when you hit senior year.

My biggest tip is to take both the ACT and SAT. This worked out especially well for me as I did slightly better on my SAT than my ACT. These two test are formatted very differently as the SAT is divided into more sections than the ACT, and the SAT by default has a writing section. I can almost guarantee that you will do better on one than the other. Check with your list of colleges which tests are required, if you have to take SAT subject tests, or if you need to take the ACT with the writing section. If possible take them multiple times to get the best score. In some cases, colleges may allow you to “mix and match” ACT or SAT sub scores, so taking a test multiple times is definitely an advantage.

Also, make sure your college essays are in tip top shape. I would highly recommend that you get them looked over by an English teacher. You should always have a set of essays ready to copy and paste into the applications that you will face when applying to the colleges. Saving your essays and keeping them in tip top shape will save you so much time when applications for college and scholarships come your way.

Filling out an application is similar to making your student resume. You need to have good, concise details about your activity in high school so that your application will catch the eyes of the admission department in college. You don’t want to describe you activities in too much length since the college has to go through thousands of applications. If you have to answer short answer questions about your character or involvement, make sure to write about experiences you are passionate about. Your ability to write in this way will allow you to express your character and uniqueness. Colleges are not always looking for kids that were involved in everything in high school, but also kids that have a diverse background in the unique things and experiences they’ve been though in their lives.

I’ve been an extremely lucky person to be going to Colorado State University and to be in their Honors Program. It’s been a rewarding experience and definitely worth every letter I typed in my application. My final advice to potential high school students looking to go to college is to start early on making sure you can make your application stand out, and to put your entire heart into it. While this may sound weird, just be yourself. What I mean by this is that when the admissions officer looks through your application, they should see every side of you. Express yourself so that you don’t become another “cookie cutter” student that gets pushed aside. For most students, this isn’t hard but we may feel nervous about being so expressive, but to an admissions officer, it’s a breath of fresh air from the rest of the applications. Make your application vibrant and special. For me the hardest part about doing my applications was to let loose of the “stale/coarse” writing style. I was able to improve my writing into a more creative and expressive style after talking a concurrent class with an English professor from our local college. Taking that class for me was the best decision I could have made before applying to college, since my writing was less than impressive before then. Always remember to put your all into it, because the next four years of your life will be determined in the words that are on your application.

Read more College Application Process Advice from other students and parents who have been through process.



Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Aaron for describing how to make that application special. We’ve talked to many college admission officers, and they do want to see creative and unique essays – and applicants. For ideas on how to make that application special, see some examples of some essays submitted by our readers at Best College Essays. Best wishes to you in college.


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How Involvement Could Prove Crucial to Getting Into Your School

by Travis Rankin
(Co.)



So here’s the thing about college admissions. If you don’t have an outstanding high school grade point average, a perfect ACT/SAT score, or a $100,000 trust fund, you’re screwed. You will never be able to go to college. You will never amount to anything. Your best bet is to apply for a job at McDonald’s. Just kidding! It’s not that concrete, so stop stressing out about it!

Just because you may have slacked off in high school, doesn’t mean that’s how it’ll be in college. Why should your success in life be completely based on how well you did on something you started when you were just fourteen? Everybody makes mistakes when they are a teenager, unless they’re some kind of cyborg. What matters is that you have the will and the desire to succeed.

When looking for colleges, you’re going to come across some schools that’ll have high standards and requirements that you don’t meet. That’s okay. Those just aren’t the schools for you. There are plenty of options that will work with you. If there’s a school whose requirements you don’t quite meet, but you really want to apply for, try contacting them and asking if any exceptions are ever made. They might ask you to write an essay to prove why they should make that exception.

Colleges want to hear about your interests and involvement when looking at your essay. If you’ve done any community service, be sure to include that in your application. For me, my involvement is what I believe got me into the University of Wyoming. You, see I didn’t meet all the requirements, but because I do so much in my high school, an exception was made for me. I ran track, I played football, I’m in NHS, I sing in choir, and I also act and help backstage for the plays and musicals at my school, Westminster High School in Colorado. So relax, and know it will never be impossible for you to go to college as long as you write a well put together essay convincing the college that you’re worth reaching out to.


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Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Travis for sharing your college essay about How Involvement Could Prove Crucial to Getting Into Your School. You’ve offered good advice. Best of luck to you.


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