October 7, 2014

            It’s the last year of high school for the Grade 12s, so besides trying to make it the most memorable year and getting the best grades possible, university applications are also a unique experience of senior year. While applications can add to your workload and stress, these helpful tips might be useful when writing them.

It’s important to start applications early. While most applications are due in February, starting as early as December can give you time to think about the essay questions (yes, there are essay questions). This will give you more time to reflect on your answers and provide unique, thoughtful, and complex responses instead of superficial and generalized ones. Starting early, you can get those references you need and also have time left over for applying for scholarships that have an earlier deadline.

The people reading your application will also be reading many others, so ensuring that your application is unique will help you stand out from the rest. It is best to be concise and clear, so that the reader understands your point with little effort expended on their part. Always stay within the word limit! Simple and to the point is often the best way to get your message across. Make sure that your responses are natural. This ensures that your personality comes through in your response and that your answer has a unique flair. The reader wants to get a sense of who you are, so a bit of appropriate humour or creativity will definitely help display your better qualities.

University applications can be difficult due to vague questions, which can lead to a variety of answers. Take this as an advantage! Write about an instance that was memorable for you, whether because you learned something from it or because it completely changed your outlook on something. You want to make your application personal. Instead of simply explaining the qualities you possess, show them these traits through various anecdotes.

Avoid restating your academics and extra-curricular activities, as there is already a separate section for providing this information. You can, however, mention an experience in your academics or extracurricular activities to show off your passion in that area, or to demonstrate how you overcame a difficulty.

University applications are not easy, but making them personal will help you immensely. It is a lot easier to talk about something personal rather than a formal, overdone topic. Exceptional applications come from our personal experiences, and those experiences are what make us unique.