Brent Logo

The Application

Remember that your application will be the first thing the college sees to form an opinion about you. It should be done with care and caution. Your application is a reflection of you and you want to make a good impression.

Top 10 Tips When Completing the Application

  1. Read and follow the instructions.
  2. Photocopy the application and complete it in draft first.
  3. Make sure it is neat and legible. Type it if you can.
  4. Keep the original at home in a safe place.
  5. Establish a separate file folder for each college to which you apply and keep copies of all of your work and correspondence from that school.
  6. If you print the information, use BLACK ink and print neatly. If you type it, be sure that the type is clear and exact.
  7. Do not use felt pen as it goes through the paper.
  8. Spelling must be correct – proofread your rough draft.
  9. If you state an intended major, make sure that the college has that major. “Undecided” can be an appropriate major.
  10. Think about your activities before you make a massive list on the application. Keep in mind that the quality of an activity is important as quantity. Several years of sust
  11. Be honest – don’t exaggerate.

The Completed Application Checklist

When you have completed an application, you should be able to check off each of the following items:

  • You are aware of the deadline for submission.
  • All parts of the application are completed neatly.
  • You have made copies of your applications and all letters you've sent.
  • Your teacher recommendations are on file in the Guidance Office.
  • The counselor form and recommendation are completed.
  • A request to send official test scores has been made to ETS and TOEFL.
  • Official transcripts of grades 9-12 high school work have been sent.
  • Application fee has been enclosed in your application.
  • Your essay has been given to your counselor.
  • Your financial aid forms have been included.

Once you have completed each of the above, you can relax and focus on your school work. You can expect a letter of acknowledgement when the admissions file is completed and you will be informed of any items that are missing.

How Application is Evaluated

Student Record and Transcript (most important)

Your application is much more than just your test scores. Test scores reflect only three hours of work. Your transcript reflects years of academic work. Increasingly, colleges are looking at high school grades as being the best predictor of success in college. As a result, US colleges pay a lot of attention to how well you did in high school. Your school record includes not only the grades you earned but also the courses you took. IB and AP courses indicate a student who is challenging him / herself rather that just sliding through regular courses with good grades. Improvement in grades from year to year looks great. Straight A grades throughout high school look fabulous! Rather than focusing solely on GPA, most schools review your transcript globally by looking at number of As, Bs, and Cs while at the same time looking at the courses you've taken. Most colleges also recalculate GPAs according to their own formula since all high school have different grading systems and place different weightings on courses.

Standarized test Scores (SAT/ACT, etc.)

Test scores are indeed used to compare and evaluate students but they are not always the number one most important criteria for admission. Admissions officers say that it is generally only very high or very low scores that affect decisions (over 1400 and under 700). At the same time however, test scores are used to distinguish you from the rest of the applicants. Admissions also look for consistency between high school grades and test scores. High SAT scores with not so great school grades might send the message to admissions people that you are lazy or aren’t putting in your best effort in high school. On the other hand, high school grades with low SAT scores might lead the admissions to question how easily the school gives out grades. Be sure to be rested when you take any admissions test. Make sure to eat a good breakfast. A sweater in case the room is too cold might make you more comfortable. A little review can make you familiar with the testing format (i.e. taking the sample test) but don’t become obsessed.

Are you Interesting?

Colleges look for people who will bring a spark to their campus. They want people who are capable of more than just earning good grades- they want people who will add to the student life on campus. Schools realize that a GPA or test score does not make up the total student. To determine how “interesting” you are, admissions people look at your extracurricular involvement, your essay, recommendations, and any awards and honors you have received in the past.


Recommendations provide information about you that is not included elsewhere in the application. Teacher and counselor recommendations can have an important bearing on your chances of success. Make sure that the teachers you ask for recommendations know you. Get to know your teachers as well as your counselor so that they have a better picture of you. It seldom helps your application to submit recommendations from people who cannot speak of you academically. There is such a thing as “too many recommendations”.

Activities Outside the Classroom

Extracurricular activities often play a large role in distinguishing you from other applicant. After all, they likely have many candidates with similar test scores and GPAs to yours. Avoid just listing activities. Use your activities to provide a picture of who you are. Quality of activities are much more important than quantity. Sustained involvement over several years in one or a few activities is more important than having just joined lots of groups for shorter periods of time. Colleges especially like position of leadership in extracurricular activities and clubs. However taking that one step further, you can be President of your class but if you don't accomplish anything while in the position, it is not nearly as valued.


This is the one part of the application you can control – try to do a good job. An essay permits you the opportunity to express yourself so take advantage of it. The essay is your chance to personalize yourself in a way that you cannot in the rest of the application. You are very different from the typical U.S. high school applicant and the essay can be used to convey this difference. Even more important than what you write is how you write it. Have parents, teachers, counselor, or friends proofread and help edit your essay. However, make sure that you do the writing. Crossed out coffee stains, using different colors of ink, or general sloppiness all send a message regarding the applicant – a message you do not want to convey. It is best to photocopy the application and make a rough draft before you work on the original.

Show Interest

Showing interest does not mean flooding the admissions with a flood of pointless emails or phone calls. If you do have something important you need an answer to, it is all right to contact them. If e-mailing, be sure to check the spelling and grammar on your e-mail as any contact will likely become part of your file. Just remember that they have thousands of applications they are trying to process. Showing interest does mean visiting the campus if you have a chance and does mean talking to admission officers who visit BISM throughout the year. Sending a letter of rejection to someone they have meet and know is much harder than sending one to someone they haven't talked to.

Can you pay?

For non-US citizens, most colleges in the US go so far as to say that if you can’t pay your own way, then you needn’t apply. However most colleges do offer financial assistance to some students but their funds are limited. For some schools it is easier to get in if you can pay your own way because that means they will have funds to entice other students who would be good additions to their student body but who may not be able to afford the full cost.

This page was last modified on Thursday, December 08, 2011, 8:29:02 PM