University of Southern California USC

Tips for Undergraduate Applicants – by Kylie Sedgwick PPD ’18

Posted on by Derek Robinson

Be Yourself. Take Care of Yourself.

Tips for Applicants

Blog - Kylie

There’s nothing quite like the flurry of activity that comes at the height of college application season. You’re probably booked solid with school, extracurriculars, personal life, and on top of that trying to make really big decisions about where you want your education to go from here. It’s a stressful time that comes with a lot of personal growth and introspection.

Now, I am by no means an admission counselor or academic advisor, but I do care about you and your well being throughout this lengthy process. I hope these tips help ease your worries and power you through the application process.You probably know all the basic tips for applications, so this is a slightly different approach. Below is a list of tips that I believe will not only help your application, but will help you feel better about the process overall.

  1. Be Yourself – in your essays, you really want to try and find your voice and be true to your own story. Have others read over your essays; ask them if they can understand who you are and hear your voice saying those words. Don’t get too caught up in being “unique” and “interesting”. These are largely subjective terms. I think it’s far more valuable to be genuine and honest about where you’ve been and where you want to go. Schools have been shifting more and more to a holistic review process, so the essays are a chance for you to truly shine.
  2. Do Your Research – find out why a school is right for you. Don’t be afraid to look beyond the admissions pages and look at programs upperclassmen do, student organizations you might want to join, potential minors, student news publications, anything really to give yourself a better idea of how you’ll fit in the school, academically and through clubs and other opportunities. The better you understand the school, the better you can speak to what you can add to the school and what the school will do for you.
  3. Take Breaks – if you have writer’s block, don’t force it. Leave enough time that it’s okay to take your time and be thoughtful with your essays. If you’re stuck, take a walk or a shower, spend time with family, or just do something else that might spark some inspiration. Then get back to work!
  4. Don’t Compare – we all have that friend that is amazing at everything and seems to coast through college applications no problem. Don’t worry about him/her because college applications are a hugely personal endeavor. No one is going to have an application exactly like yours, so try not to get caught up in who is applying where, who got one point higher than you on the ACT, and who might be “better” than you. Stay centered and focused on your own goals.
  5. Be Proud of Yourself – if you are yourself in your application, stand by that! Know that you really put yourself down on paper and you gave it your all. It gives peace of mind come decision time. Even if you end up with a rejection letter, maybe the school wasn’t the right fit for you after all.
  6. Let Go – know that once you submit the application, your job is done and you have to wait. The admissions process on the school’s end is a long, tedious process that is by no means perfect. Accept that whatever happens, happens and you will figure that out once decisions reach you.

I wish you all the best of luck with your applications. Please enjoy the next few months and embrace how exciting this new chapter of your life is going to be. I don’t know you, but I’m so proud of you and I know you’re working hard and are going to end up at a great school.


Fight On!

Kylie Sedgwick

PPD c/o 2018


Sedgwick, Kylie - PPD

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