How tailored to each school should an application be?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

How tailored to each school should an application be?

Jane McClure
Partner McClure, Mailory & Baron Educational Counseling

How tailored to each school should an application be?

Here is my video response to the question.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

How tailored to each school should an application be?

You should complete the best application you can for each school. You do need to demonstrate why you would be an asset to that particular college or university. If you are asked the "WHY do you want to attend this school" question on a supplement, you should be able to answer with specific instances.

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Tailor Applications to You

Trying to figure out 'what they want' is one of the most common mistakes that students make on the college essays and short answer responses. When you write, focus on your strengths (not the attributes of the institution) and tout your talents and accomplishments (not theirs). You should be able to use the same personal statement to fulfill each college's longer essay requirement. And, when you write about "Why Fill-in-the-Blank University?" your response should reflect the way your goals and talents align with the learning environment (do not list accolades of which the school is undoubtedly aware). In some cases, tailored responses occur because the college's application is devised to reflect the institution (ie Wake Forest University, College of William and Mary, University of Chicago).

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

different essay

I don't believe it is necessary that students should consider to submit different applications to each school. applications are data collections about persnal profile and school profile. however, essay is different and should be considered unique and customized for each school. it is time consume and requrie a lot of practice.

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

Tailoring the Application to the School

Some parts of your application are going to be generic; the information you enter will be applicable to all of the institutions to which you're applying. That's why it was possible to develop the Common Application, which is accepted by many schools. But that is also why some schools have Supplements to the Common Application. Those Supplements are specific to the institutions requiring them and will ask for information which, in effect, is tailored to the school in question. The Common Application essays should not refer directly to any particular school because they are probably going to several different colleges/universities depending on where you have chosen to submit your applications. Additional essays may be required by a school along with its Supplement, and in that case, you should very much consider the qualities of that specific institution and formulate your essay with thought being given to what you can offer that school and what it can offer you. As always, everything you submit should be authentic and should represent you, your values, and your interests as they really are.

Margaret Tung
Strategist Yale University

If you want them to think you're special, make them feel special

Schools around the country, especially the most competitive top tier schools, know that there are thousands of kids dying to get an acceptance letter--or even a spot on the waitlist. In this day and age, the Common Application is a misnomer. It's an easy way for schools to screen your profile for data, to see whether or not they want to read your application further. As that's the case, you should always include and emphasize the parts of your CV that you really want your top schools to see. In any supplemental materials that you might send, make sure you're highlighting skills or passions of yours that you think could really flourish or contribute to the campus community and to your own college experience.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

How tailored to each school should an application be?

In general the application should be about portraying as fully and as effectively as possible who you are, what you have done, and what you have to offer that school community. That being said, there is not massive room—or need—for variation. However, there may be places where what you offer will be viewed differently depending upon what the school may “need,” and so you should present it that way. Too, there should certainly there should be differences in the essay in response to the often asked question, “Why do you want to go to “insert school name here”? In the end, the key is to let them see who you are. It is then up to them to see if that person fits their institutional needs. Sometimes, it will and sometimes it won’t—but regardless of the definitive answer, it says more about the school than about the applicant.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

How tailored to each school should an application be?

Only some of the answers can be tailored, as the application itself is a pre-printed form. Try to get it across that this school is your 1st choice.

Lisa Carlton

How tailored to each school should an application be?

Your application should be very tailored to the school you are applying. This is a key mistake made by many students. Make sure that it is evident in your application why you want to attend a particular college. Be specific! Tell the college in your own words why you are applying and what you "love" about the college. If you have visited the campus be sure to mention some of your favorite sites or experiences from that visit.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

How tailored to each school should an application be?

As much as possible.