This time two years ago, I found myself dreaming big and researching a variety of big names schools to apply to. Being a first generation college student, I wish I had advice and tips for applying to colleges.
My first piece of advice I would give you is to dare to dream. Apply to your dream school, even if acceptance does not seem unattainable. If it is too pricey or your standardized test scores fall slightly below the university’s average, apply. You will never know if you do not try. Who know’s maybe you will run into scholarship money or your essay and amazing GPA might lead the admission officers to overlook your shortcoming in the standardized testing.
Second, apply to at least one safe school. Apply to a school that has average qualification that you exceed by far. Also, apply to a school that you would easily be able to afford such as local college. In case money falls through or you do not get into your dream school or first choice, you will be able to still attend college. If you do not get into your first choice you can always transfer schools. Who knows, you may actually fall in love with your safe school and not want to leave.
Thirdly, I would advise you to look into application vouchers and SAT/ACT vouchers. I applied for 4 schools and luckily did not have to pay for any of the applications. Many high schools have programs that will provide students with vouchers to cover applications cost.
Fourth, have a stranger critique your essay. Give your personal statement or application essays to a counselor or English teacher that does not know you well to critique. They can provide you with an honest and helpful critique. They also can you give a non-biased opinion on your writing.
These tips should help you in your application process. Good luck!