Guide to a Smooth College Application Process

Guide to a Smooth College Application Process

Applying to college is one of the most stressful times for a high school Senior. While daunting, all students have to go through it to earn the opportunity to prove their potential. Hibiki talked to the Class of 2021’s valedictorian, Abishek Manikandan, for tips on a successful application. 

Start Early

Getting a head start is key.  Abishek recommends “Make sure you know your deadlines. Some universities are a little harder to [navigate] so contact the Admissions Office early for questions.” Double – even triple – check all requirements such as tests, recommendations, etc. Nearly all questions can be answered by researching college websites. 

If you are unsure about what you would like to pursue, “Choose an interdisciplinary subject,” suggested Abishek. “Your undergraduate doesn’t have to be the thing you’re gonna devote your work to. Just keep it related to that. Undergraduate [studies] simply bring you up to speed, your graduate will help decide your life, and if you’re unsure of the field in the subject, choose the closest broad major there is.” Don’t stress, you still have much of your college years to decide.  

Don’t Underestimate Non-Academic Activities

Be involved. Don’t hold back. Take part in volunteer activities, sports clubs, or just things that interest you. Take on leadership positions in or outside School. Show interest and commit to a hobby. Extracurriculars are super important for admissions. They provide content for many of the application questions. 

The Essay

“Be true to yourself!” said Abishek. “Try not to exaggerate and always make sure you know what each paragraph is about,” he added. “Talk from experience, not imagination.” 

Apply to One or Ten? 

While students will find hundreds of colleges that interest them, applying to too many can backfire. Abishek recommends the following: pick two reach schools (most challenging to get into), two target schools (schools you are likely to get into), and three safety schools (schools you are confident you will get into). “A bigger number isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s a lot more work and your focus and attention will be more spread out,” he said. 


Some universities interview students who have cleared the first stage. It’s simply a way for them to get to know you better and understand why you are fit for the course you applied to. 

Make sure you prepare and practice for interviews. Do mock interviews, talk to family members, and research online to prepare. During the interview “get a handle of your nerves and stay calm,” said Abishek, “by then you already know how to answer their questions and present yourself. ” He added that “deep breaths and lemon tea worked for me.”