What's the toughest part of the college admissions process?

Are you dreading your college applications? Here's the secret to success: Think like an admissions officer. We show you how.
March 6, 2019

What do you consider the toughest part of the college admissions process?

Number one is taking the SAT, ACT, and AP exams. Yup, that's not fun for most people.

A close second? Completing the college applications! That's according to the 2019 College Hopes & Worries Survey from Princeton Review. College applications are high-stakes because you really care about the outcome, you (hopefully) do it only once or however many siblings or children you have in your family, and there's a fairly steep learning curve.

We know that the applications can seem like a black box sometimes. Why are they asking a certain question? How will your answers affect the admissions outcome? What can you do to maximize your odds of getting accepted as you're answering questions and writing essays in the applications? Because all the stuff you've done up to now is only half the battle. If you don't showcase the right things in the applications in the most effective way, you can be tanking the outcome without even knowing it.

Until the decision arrives. And then you might scratch your head and wonder why all the great things you have to offer weren't enough. The whole thing can feel like a random lottery, or you might conclude that the system is completely rigged. And it will feel like a big black box, because colleges are not going to give you feedback about what you did right and what you did wrong and what you could have done better.

Inline is your alternative. And your superpower. Because Inline teaches you how to think like an admissions officer through every step of the application, including activities lists, essays, disciplinary and criminal disclosures, recommendations, and more.

It even has strategic advice for important decisions you have to make along the way that can have a real effect on the outcome (Should I apply Early Decision or Regular? Should I submit this test score or not?) and all of those innocent looking but loaded questions like "Do you intend to apply for financial aid?" or "What is your intended major?" (Yup, those innocent looking questions can affect the outcome as well.) And what should you do with the free-form, optional "Additional Information" section? Using that section strategically is one of the best things you can do for your application, and we show you how.

And our essay samples don't just show you what other people did. They are annotated so that you can see what makes an essay effective from the perspective of an admissions officer. Because ultimately, that's whose assessment and reaction and thinking process matters most to the outcome — not your English teacher, not your dad, not your friend who's a sophomore at your dream school, not commenters on a discussion board.

What are the parts of the application are you finding most challenging?

Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.

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