18 Application Tips For Prospective Students
18. Don’t stress out!
Whether it’s writing the essay or completing the application process as a whole, time spent reflecting on and communicating your experience can be valuable and positive. Bring that positive attitude to the process, and believe that most admission officers will enjoy reading your story.
17. You do have control
In the case of applying to Bates, you will be one of many applicants, so the process is beyond your control in some ways. But in other ways, you have control. You control your writing, who you choose to write your recommendations and, by spring, which colleges you choose among the ones that accept your application.
16. Get feedback
Have a fresh pair of eyes give you some feedback. Do not allow another to rewrite your essay, but edits and opinions from someone else are usually helpful.
15. Keep it simple
In your writing, avoid vocabulary that tries to sound overly sophisticated. Admission officers are not impressed by the overuse of long vocabulary words found in thesauruses. Find and use your own voice to tell your story.
14. Be original
We’ve seen plagiarized essays before, as well as the work of a parent, teacher or essay-writing professional. Don’t make that mistake.
13. Include details
Use action words that make your essay come alive. Paint a picture that will hold the reader’s attention.
12. Grab our attention
In your essay, start with a great opener that catches the reader’s attention immediately. Make the admission officer want to continue reading more about you.
11. Stay focused
When asked to write an essay, do not submit a research paper. Write an essay with meaning, and tell us something about yourself that helps admission officers envision you as a member of our campus community.
10. Proofread your work!
We want to experience the depth, creativity, and clarity of your ideas unencumbered by misspellings and grammatical errors.
9. Be yourself
In all your communications with your colleges, provide a window into your values and experiences. You know yourself best, so be honest.
8. Talk about it
In every step of the college search, communication between you and your family is vitally important. Beginning with expectations and ending with the decision, every component involves a great deal of prioritizing and decision making. The easiest way to get through the stressful times is honest communication.
7. Take full advantage of the essay
The personal essay allows you to showcase who you are. The five Common Application prompts leave the range of topics wide open. The word count is small, so narrow your scope and aim for the heart of the story you want to tell.
6. Don’t oversell yourself
Additional letters of recommendation can be helpful if you feel there is a part of your life underrepresented by the standard application, but resist believing that more is better.
5. Put effort into all your writing
The short answers matter too! While your college essay is being combed over by everyone you know, ask them also to take a look at your short responses and supplemental essays (though remember–we do not have a supplemental essay at Bates!). Since there are very few places on the Common Application to express your writing, which in turn expresses your thinking skills, the Bates staff looks at all your writing to see if there is consistency in your voice and writing style.
4. Articulate your inspiration
Tell us about what you truly enjoy doing, what inspires you, and what holds meaning for you. As the revered civil rights leader and Bates graduate Benjamin Mays ’25 said, “It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal, but it is a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is sin.”
3. Realize that 7.5 billion people live on this planet
Your courses and grades are not you. Use the subjective questions and the essay to describe your character and experience in ways that create a distinct person that an admission staff can come to know.
2. Share your history
View the admission forms as the place to chronicle your family background, school history, activities, work experiences, and other autobiographical information. Be clear and concise and use specific detail.
1. Identify your growth
Your goal in applying to Bates should be, among other things, to show how and/or why your most important activities (perhaps an AP physics project, a team captaincy, or a community project) have changed you. Our staff at Bates wants to know what you have learned from your experiences, not just what you have done.