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Applying to college may seem daunting, and admittedly, the process can be quite tedious; however, there is absolutely no reason to be discouraged. Keep being a diligent student and your odds of being accepted can only go up. The following tips were highlighted by admissions officers in Virginia and, if followed, should help your odds of getting accepted.

Start Early

Don’t procrastinate. The ripe time for applying to college creeps up on you. By starting the process early, you’ll have more time to do a thorough job. Those writing your recommendations will appreciate advanced notice. Their time is valuable, and you can’t expect them to drop everything and write a heartfelt letter for you two days before it needs to be sent.

After gathering all materials and completing an application, Vishon Luck, the director of undergraduate recruitment at Virginia Commonwealth University, recommended “letting it sit for a day or so, then going back and either you double check for errors or have a second set of eyes double check for errors.” Luck has been doing this for a long time and says he can often tell when someone has submitted something that was completed last minute. “You don’t want careless mistakes to be a deterrent for people taking you as seriously as possible,” he says.

Get Clear In Your Essay

When working on the essay portion of your application, Luck also recommends setting aside time to brainstorm before starting to write. “Take a moment to get your thoughts together so you can make sure that you’re coming across as clear as possible and as structured as possible,” he says. Once you think you’ve got a good draft, let someone else look at it. What makes sense to you may not make sense to others.

Additionally, George Mason University Admissions Counselor Casey Catlin suggests using specificity in each individual essay you write. It’s better to “mention the institution you’re applying for and the reasons you specifically want to attend said school in your personal statement, rather than copying and pasting the same generic essay into all of your applications,” Catlin says. Lastly, make sure to read the question carefully and respond appropriately. “You would be surprised at the number of responses we get that really aren’t answering the questions that we want to know,” says Luck.

Stand Out with Your Uniqueness

Finally, approach your application with the mindset that everyone you’re up against is a strong student. Keeping this mindset will push you to think outside the box, which is exactly the sort of thinking you need since many kids applying will have similar volunteer experience and academic aptitude to your own. You want to demonstrate through your essay, and through your application in general, that you have something special to offer. Tell your story, but take special care to showcase what sets you apart from the rest. Maybe you did some research on a foreign animal species, created art to raise awareness for autism, or perhaps you have an invention going through the patent process—these are all along the lines of what admissions officers are looking for.

“It’s not rocket science,” Luck says. “We want strong students who have taken good courses, have performed well in those courses, and value what we have to offer.”

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Pouches' Community Corner

Trains, Planes and Automobiles Kids' Race Series


From a small beginning, Cathy Weise of the Ron Rosner YMCA has developed an ambitious three-race series for kids for this summer, with the help of The Great Train Race, Shannon Airport, Dominion Raceway & Entertainment, the Fredericksburg Area Service League and Race Timing Unlimited.

Great Train Race Director Jennifer Taylor was one of the first on board.