Past and present students share college application advice


Getty Images

University application form

Justin Maines, Staff Writer

As the current seniors wrap up their own college application process, a new group of students are getting ready to begin their own college applications. The current juniors at Clearfield Area Junior-Senior High School are only half a year away from being able to go online and click the “Apply Now” button on the website of their dream schools. To give juniors an idea of what to expect throughout the entire process of applying and enrolling in college, senior Elliot Thorp and 2018 graduate Jaclyn Freeman shared their experiences.

Thorp applied to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bucknell University, Cornell University, University of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania State University. He did not apply to these colleges only because of the name of the university, instead he based his college choices off of his academic interest. “I chose these colleges because they are some of the best engineering schools on the East Coast,” stated Thorp. Freeman, now a freshman at The University of Pittsburgh, shared similar advice for students picking which colleges they apply to: “Choose the right schools for you based on the campus and program, not just the name of the school.”

Choosing the right schools to apply to is only the start of the application process for students. A student’s time is already limited due to homework, sports, a job, or extracurricular activities, and it may be hard to fit in college applications. With deadlines for applications often in early January, Thorp struggled with finding time to apply to numerous different colleges, stating: “The hardest part of the application process was writing essays for each college and making sure I did not miss the deadlines.” To avoid this, Thorp recommends starting the application process earlier than expected to ensure that students have enough time to craft the best possible essays for each application.

The Common Application, a standardized application that allows students to apply to many schools with just one application, is beginning to gain popularity among colleges. Over 700 colleges currently accept the Common Application, and that number grows every year. To find out which colleges accept the Common Application, check out their webpage at:

Another key aspect of a college application is a student’s grades and extracurricular activities like clubs and sports. “Take advanced classes and AP tests as much as you can. Make sure you get involved in the school through clubs and sports so colleges can see that you’re active in the community,” shared Freeman. As a student at Clearfield, she was active in four sports, many clubs, and she volunteered to help the community. Along with her impressive extracurricular résumé, Freeman took many of the hardest classes possible in high school, and she believes that doing this showed Pitt that she was a hardworking student that deserved a spot in their class.

The college application process is a time that all prospective college students must go through, and it requires a tedious amount of preparation. Not only must students be prepared in the early months of their senior year when they have to start filling out applications, they must prepare throughout their entire high school careers by taking challenging classes and getting involved in extracurricular activities.