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Crash Course: How to College is part of Study Hall, a partnership between ASU and Crash Course. Head over to our new Study Hall channel to check out our Fast Guide series which break down different college majors.

Now that we're to the point of actually applying for college, things can get a little overwhelming. But, not to worry, Erica has some helpful ways to manage everything you need to keep track of, fill out, and even ways to save some money in fees.

Get a list of upcoming episodes for Fast Guides and How to College at https://gostudyhall.com/

Follow Study Hall on socials!
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Watch our videos and review your learning with the Crash Course App!
Download here for Apple Devices: https://apple.co/3d4eyZo
Download here for Android Devices: https://bit.ly/2SrDulJ

Crash Course is on Patreon! You can support us directly by signing up at http://www.patreon.com/crashcourse

Thanks to the following patrons for their generous monthly contributions that help keep Crash Course free for everyone forever:
Dave Freeman, Hasan Jamal, DL Singfield, Lisa Owen, Jeremy Mysliwiec, Amelia Ryczek, Ken Davidian, Stephen Akuffo, Toni Miles, Erin Switzer, Steve Segreto, Michael M. Varughese, Kyle & Katherine Callahan, Laurel Stevens, Vincent, Michael Wang, Stacey Gillespie (Stacey J), Alexis B, Burt Humburg, Aziz Y, Shanta, DAVID MORTON HUDSON, Perry Joyce, Scott Harrison, Mark & Susan Billian, Junrong Eric Zhu, Rachel Creager, Breanna Bosso, Matt Curls, Tim Kwist, Jonathan Zbikowski, Jennifer Killen, Sarah & Nathan Catchings, team dorsey, Trevin Beattie, Divonne Holmes à Court, Eric Koslow, Jennifer, Dineen, Indika Siriwardena, Khaled El Shalakany, Jason Rostoker, Shawn Arnold, Siobhán, Ken Penttinen, Nathan Taylor, Les Aker, ClareG, Rizwan Kassim, Alex Hackman, Jirat, Katie Dean, Avi Yashchin, NileMatotle, Wai Jack Sin, Ian Dundore, Justin, Mark, Caleb Weeks
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Want to find Crash Course elsewhere on the internet?
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So you’ve decided to apply to college.

Fantastic. Now you just need to condense your entire background, your qualifications, and the whole story of your life into like 3 or 4 very specific types of documents.

Luckily, this is actually not as hard as it sounds. By the end of this episode, we’ll have broken down the college application into a few steps. While colleges do ask for a lot of information, it’s easiest to understand what you need by taking a bird’s eye view of the process.

Hi, I’m Erica Brozovsky and this is Crash

Course: How to College, a Study Hall series presented in partnership with Arizona State University. Let’s go on a little walk-through of the college application. The first step to apply to college is to figure out where you might want to go and why! Your preferences will be personal.

Maybe you’re looking for a match that’s close to your family, and if it’s not… things just aren’t going to work out. Or maybe your deal breaker is cost. Remember though, there might be room for compromise: We’ll talk about how to pay for college in an upcoming episode and we discussed how to find the right school for you in our second episode.

When you’re ready to apply, you’ll want to think about how competitive it will be to get into each school by looking at their selectivity, or rate of admission. To ensure that you’ll be able to attend college next year, include some “safe” schools that you know you’re well-qualified to attend and that have a high admissions rate compared to others on your list. In general, community colleges and trade schools accept more students, so you won’t typically have to worry about categorizing them by competitiveness.

Getting into college is no guarantee. Every year, students receive admissions decisions that surprise them, so it’s best to choose some schools that are a safe bet. Sometimes though, students receive admissions decisions that are a more pleasant surprise.

That’s why many students choose to include “reach” schools that they would love to attend but are more competitive. If you make a good case for yourself and submit a solid application, you never know, so don’t underestimate yourself! Applying to a school that might be a stretch could pay off, so it’s a good strategy to include at least one on your list.

The core of your list of colleges should be schools that match your level of achievement and meet your most important criteria. Thinking about whether a school will want you is important, but it’s also important to think about whether you want the school and whether these are places where you feel safe and where you’ll be able to learn and thrive. It’s hard to get a sense of a campus's culture as an outsider, but seeing how a school talks about themselves on their websites or talking to current students can be really illuminating.

Ask students what activities they are involved in and what they like about their classes and their professors. It’s also a good idea to look for opportunities to meet with representatives of the colleges that interest you. One way to do this is to attend “college fairs,” which are often hosted at high schools.

Some schools offer ways to connect with alumni or current students, sometimes called “admissions ambassadors,” so you can get a personal perspective from someone on the school’s academics or campus culture. You might not know what types of schools you prefer until you see them, so consider visiting a campus in person or virtually as you make your list. So with some research and some forethought about deal breakers, we really can narrow down the hundreds of possible colleges to just a few that we’re actually excited about applying to.

And finally, applying to college can be expensive. Some students want to apply to many schools to give themselves good odds for acceptance, but it’s normal to feel discouraged by the cost of applications, which can easily add up. Don’t be afraid to ask about fee waivers.

Admissions representatives, college counselors, or current students may be able to help you find ways to avoid paying a fee for every application you submit. This information is not always out in the open, so it’s worth spending time to find out or ask someone at the school. Once you have a list, the next step is to collect documents related to your qualifications, which you might have organized already if you watched our last episode on preparing to apply to college!

First, you’ll need a transcript, which is an official record of all the courses you took and the grades you got from any high school or GED program that you attended. This proves that you’ve met your school’s and state’s requirements for secondary education. Second, some schools also require standardized test scores, like SAT or ACT scores, which demonstrate how much you've mastered general knowledge concepts.

Check out our previous episodes for more information, but it's important to remember that while we're in this global pandemic, many schools have waived the SAT or ACT exam entirely. So be sure you know what the school you're applying to expects before you make plans. The third, and most open-ended aspect of your college application, will be your own personal writing.

Most schools require a personal statement or college essay. This is usually a 1-2 page essay that will give you the chance to show the admissions committee who you are outside of test scores and grades. This is when you get to talk about yourself, show your personality, and contextualize all the little bits and pieces of your application.

It's your chance to show who you are as a person, and why that person is a good fit for this college. In addition, you may have supplemental questions to answer, or a writing sample to select. Let's go to the Thought Bubble.

Say Ana is thinking about going back to college after working for a few years after high school. In her personal statement, she’ll want to explain what sort of student she’d be and what she might bring to the college. It’s her first time writing a personal statement, and that can be a little uncomfortable.

It’s a new experience, since so far she’s mostly written essays about novels or historical events for her teachers. Ana has probably written tons of emails, text messages, and social media posts, and maybe even some journal entries. A personal statement will be somewhat similar to those things, because it’ll be written in the first-person, but it will also be a bit different because Ana will be using her statement to pitch her best qualities.

Since this time it’s all about Ana, it’s okay for her to brag and explain why she’s proud of herself. Ana has already added her resume to her college application and doesn’t want her personal statement to be a repeat of that. Instead, her personal statement will tell a story about how she developed her interests, values, and pursuits, and then make the case that she would be a great addition to the student body at that college.

Ana decides to follow some time-tested writing advice: “Show, don’t tell.” Instead of writing, “I have experience leading a group,” she may tell the story about how organizing a group project with her lab partners helped her realize she has the ability to delegate and lead others. For your own personal statement, you might tell the story of how your first volleyball injury inspired you to pursue sports medicine, or how being overwhelmed by a big project made you passionate about mental health. Tell a story that only you can write.

Supplemental questions are school-specific, but usually ask about topics like your leadership experience, how your background or upbringing has affected your values or goals, how you overcame a significant challenge, how you successfully reached a big accomplishment, or how you plan to pursue a big project or career path. Thanks Thought Bubble. Last, here’s some general writing advice.

When working on any type of writing, it’s important for us to get our ideas written down. Even if our work looks disorganized or messy, having a rough draft allows us to share our thoughts with others and revise. Once we can see our work on paper, it’s clearer what needs to improve.

And once you’ve got a rough draft, it’s best to find other people to read your work. Some of these should be people who know you well, so that they can tell whether you are communicating your strengths clearly. Teachers, family friends, fellow students, managers, and current college students are all good options.

It may also help to find at least one person, like an admissions counselor or neighbor, who doesn’t know you as well. Since the admissions counselor reading your work doesn’t know you, make sure to describe your background in a way that is accessible to an unfamiliar audience –but limit your readers to 4 or 5. Too many opinions may end up overwhelming you instead of helping!

By the time you finish your college applications, you’ll probably be very tired of filling out forms. But you can be proud that you’ve done some hard work to present yourself in the best light, and there is nothing quite like the feeling of hitting that submit button once your application is done. Even the most organized person will likely find applying to college to be a cumbersome project.

With so many application documents to juggle, it can be easy to lose the forest for the trees. Submitting your application will be the end of a long process, but it’s also the beginning of something new. Everything in your application will serve as your springboard for a college experience that suits your goals and your vision for your life and career.

Filling it out takes some time, but once it’s done, you’ll be well on your way. Thanks for watching this episode of Crash Course How to College. This series is part of an expanded program called Study Hall.

Crash Course has partnered with Arizona State University to launch Study Hall on its own channel. Check out youtube.com/studyhall where you’ll find more tips about navigating college, choosing a major, plus foundational courses connected to college credit courses that students struggle most with in their first 2 years. We hope to see you there!