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Admissions 106: If I Had To Apply Again
by Betsy F. Woolf

Insiders Guide To CollegeOne of the best ways to approach the college admissions process is to take advice from students and recent grads who’ve gone through it. Here’s what six students say about what they’d do now if they were doing it all over again:

Easing the Search Process

Travis, Tufts University, Class of 2013: “The college search does not have to be as stressful as it is made to seem. The keys are maintaining composure and keeping a relaxed attitude. The process should be fun. You’re exploring schools in order to secure your future. You’re learning about a whole new interesting world--and you should appreciate this learning. What you make of the process is completely based on how you approach the situation.”

Amy, Washington University in St. Louis, Class of 2008: “If I were doing it again, I would ask my teachers for more advice as to where to apply and to look at my essays. I thought I had to do it on my own.”

Zach, Brandeis University, Class of 2013: “Though working on college essays over the summer wasn’t appealing, it saved me a lot of stress during the school year. The beginning of senior year was the most hectic time in high school, and it felt good to be done with my applications before break, when many of my friends were still stressed about the process.”

Researching Schools

Deena, Clark University, Class of 2008: “I only toured four schools. I got lucky because I fell in love with one of them, applied, and got in. But it’s a good idea to see more. What if I hadn’t gotten in?”

Elizabeth, New York University, Class of 2008: Ask yourself: Do I prefer an urban or a rural school? Is there a specific religious community I want to be in, and can I find it at the school I’m considering? Does the school have a major I’m interested in? Can I create my own major if at some point I decide that the majors at the college don’t quite work for me? If I had to do it again, I would probably have switched from a traditional major to something more individualized.”

Kaitlin, Stetson University, Class of 2012: “It’s a good idea to tour the schools with a list of questions to ask about things that are important to you. As someone who wants to get involved in Jewish life, I've learned to ask not only, Is there a Hillel on campus? but also, How active on campus is it? If a school didn’t have exactly what I was looking for, I put it down toward the bottom of the list. Remember, it’s your decision about where to go to college, even if your parents are excited about a particular school. Ultimately, you have to be in love with the school.”

- Betsy F. Woolf, independent educational consultant, Woolf College Consulting, Mamaroneck, NY; journalist; board member, Hillels of Westchester


Union for Reform Judaism.