7 Steps to an Outstanding Application

It’s 2:00 p.m. and I can barely stay awake. I had just pulled an all-nighter finishing an important application for a summer program, with only two more days left until the deadline. Was the entire process long and demanding? That’s true, but I had all the time since September to finish it. It just so happens that I, an unsalvageable procrastinator, decided to put off completing it until just two weeks before. Want to avoid my unfortunate fate? Read these steps that will ensure the maximum success of your application!

1. Start early.

Procrastination results in sloppy work. We all know that throwing something together last minute is never as good as having the time to review the final product a couple of times. Even worse, you might run into my situation where multiple assignments are due around the same time as the application deadline, and the quality of your work drops because you are trying to do too many things in too little time. To save yourself minimal stress and suffering, start as early as possible.

2. Read and follow instructions properly.

Always take a few minutes to review the entire application carefully before you begin. Some applications asks for information differently, and all have questions that you are expected to answer. Failure to follow the instructions  will not reflect well on your application, so beware!

3. Divide and conquer, and start with the small things first.

An application, with all its questions and text boxes, will seem unconquerable. When I saw the daunting length of the application form, I became stressed and decided that I wanted to put off the work until another time. This lead to my frantically trying to finish everything in the last week, which created even more stress than I would have had if I started the application early. Divide your application into bite-sized and manageable portions, and set a goal to complete one portion per 3-4 days. Start from the easiest part so that you are not overwhelmed, and save the most time-consuming ones for last. Remember: one step at a time.

4. Get the administrative tasks done ASAP.

Don’t wait until the week before the deadline to ask for a reference, transcript, or other documents. Your teachers and counsellors are human too. If you ask them to complete your reference when they are frazzled with work, they might not pay as much thought to your reference because they are trying to finish everything too. Come to them at least two weeks before the deadline, and give them the time they need to find your record or write the perfect reference letter.

5. Plan your essays out.

Do you ever find yourself wandering away from the main idea of your essay? Planning eliminates this problem because you will have an idea of how to present your arguments before you begin your answer. Planning ensures that your piece is coherent and your ideas are cohesive. The reviewers will never run into the problem of struggling to make sense of your essay!

6. Write your essays.

Write your essays in a word-processing document. If you write it in the text box on the application form, you run the risk of losing it without saving or accidentally submitting it. Plus, you can start a collection of application questions. Next time when you fill out a form and one question is awfully similar to one that you have answered in a previous application, simply take your previous answer and mold it to fit your new question!

Remember to highlight your accomplishments using the STAR analysis method:

    Situation: What  was the challenge that you were facing?

    Task: What objective did you have to achieve?

    Action: What did you do? Talk about the actions you took, why you did them, and what alternatives there were.

    Result: What were the outcomes of your actions? What did you achieve through your actions and what did you learn from them?

7. Edit.

Congratulations, your application form is almost ready for submission! Only one thing left to do: editing. Look over your form for anything you  forgot to fill, and your essays for any spelling and grammar errors, awkward sentences, and I recommend giving yourself at least a week to edit. If possible, ask your peers and teachers to read over your answers and give you their inputs.

You can do it,