College applications can seem overwhelming at times. There's a lot of information to keep track of and it's hard to gauge progress when colleges give you little to no feedback. We asked PHC's Director of Student Recruitment Stephen Pierce for the dos and don'ts of college applications.
What are the top 5 most common mistakes students make on college applications?
1. Overthink it – Don’t overthink it! I’ve seen students take months to submit an application that would’ve been just as good months earlier. Submit a clean, crisp, professional, and truthful application—that’s good enough! Our application can take 20 minutes if you have essays that fit the criteria.
2. Underthink it – Conversely, some students will submit their applications so fast that the content is not as thorough as we would like. Colleges, especially smaller ones like PHC, care about each student individually and review these applications and want to see that you care about applying.
3. Procrastinate about it – Some students start an application and take months to finish. Start it and try to finish it in the same sitting. You have better odds of finishing it if you do it in one sitting, and your college will appreciate your timeliness.
4. Missing application details – Some students will move so quickly through the application that they will not look at the requirements and will submit the wrong document or sign the wrong box. Make sure you fill it out correctly!
5. Double check your work – It sounds funny, but we’ve seen cover letters and resumes with other colleges on them. Make sure you look back over everything before you click submit!
What are the top 5 best things students can do with their college applications?
1. Be excited about applying! This is a joyful time of your life where you are transitioning seasons. Enjoy it and soak it all in—it will be gone before you know it.
2. Before, or after applying, visit the college! Websites and brochures are nice, but nothing beats the on-campus visit experience. It is a win-win—you can learn about the college and you have the opportunity to make a good impression on the college.
3. Get it in early, before college deadlines. (Months before if you can!). There are often incentives, too.
4. Make it sparkle! Whether it is a resume, a cover letter, or a reading list, send us something that tells a unique story about you.
5. Always be truthful! Don’t make up any details. Tell us your real story.
How does PHC determine whether or not a student fits the school?
Our job at PHC is to recruit the right students for this college! We look at many factors, but if you boiled it down to our core, we are looking for great mission-fit students. These are believers in Christ who love the Lord and who are prepared academically for the 4-year journey at PHC.
We look at a faith essay, standardized tests, high school transcript, academic essay, and other supplemental materials. Once you make it past the review stage, a member of our team will reach out for an interview with you to get to know you better. Although it is not required, we’d love to meet you in person too, so feel free to come for a campus visit anytime.
Can students do other things outside their application to make a good impression?
At Patrick Henry, we enjoy reaching out to our students and appreciate getting to know them. Being timely and thorough in your calls or emails with your counselor means a lot to the recruitment team! Be genuine and transparent—never hide your true intentions! At PHC, we always seek to help you get to the place the Lord has for you. We’re here to help and we pray for you each week. Some of us pray daily for you and your college decision!
What else can students do to prepare?
Spiritually, prepare for this next step. Spend time in the Word, spend time in prayer and conversation with the Lord, and spend time talking with spiritual mentors (parents, pastors, family friends). Make sure that you believe what you believe…college is a preparation ground for the rest of your life and is filled with trials. Stick close to the Lord now and continue to through college!
Academically, I think one of the toughest things for students is to practice their standardized tests over and over again so they can improve their score. There are many things they’d like to do, and sitting with a practice test for 3 hours does not rank high. However, I can’t emphasize enough how important these tests are for your future. Spending $500 on standardized test tutoring or a class can net you many, many times over what you put into it! Additionally, a higher score will push your application high in the stack for colleges…and it also proves that you have the intellectual power and thinking capacity to make it in a rigorous classroom environment for the next four years.