7 Tips on Applying to College from a Top Admissions Team

While the process of applying to college can be a bit overwhelming, there are ways to eliminate the stress when filling out applications – and boost your chances of standing out.

As deadlines loom at colleges and universities across the U.S., we sat down with Iona University’s Kevin O’Sullivan, SVP of Enrollment and Student Affairs, and Ryan DePuy, Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions, for tips to help navigate the process.

Iona University Application Deadlines:

  • Early Action I/Health Sciences (non-binding): December 15, 2023
  • Early Action II (non-binding): January 15, 2024
  • Regular Decision: February 15, 2024
  • Deposit Deadline: May 1, 2024

To learn more, please visit Iona Admissions today!

1. Do your homework prior to applying

It is important to sit down as a family and discuss what your priorities are. Being open about tuition costs, possible majors and student goals will help you narrow down your search for the perfect choice. Ideally, students should want to target 7 to 10 schools based on the criteria you have already discussed.

2. High school counselors are more important than ever

High school counselors play a critical role in helping students navigate the entire process as well as helping deal with the fear and anxiety it can bring. Students should have an open dialogue with them to help narrow down choices as well as see if they can match them up with former graduates who can provide further insight into a school they might attend. They are also a great resource for parents to help walk them through the financial aid process.

3. Watch out for silly mistakes especially when applying on the Common App

The ability to apply for numerous schools via the same application makes the entire process a lot easier, but there is also more room for error. Be sure to check the correct boxes for majors that you have the proper requirements for along with making sure your essays don’t include other school names by mistake. Also, be mindful of adding skills or accomplishments that might appeal to an admissions officer, especially clubs.

4. Be yourself in your college essay

Don’t be overcoached by someone and just write what you think everyone is going to want to hear.  Be authentic to you and boast about your accomplishments and club involvement that shows more about you! Essays that fail to stand out use cliches like sports as metaphors for life. Admissions officers want to see stories of perseverance, even if the result was not successful.

5. Letters of recommendation

Instead of having one of your favorite teachers write your letter of recommendation, consider asking a teacher that you improved the most under to show how you were able to overcome obstacles.

6. Show you are interested

If you are interested in a specific school, make sure they know you are interested. Contact the admissions office to schedule a tour, spend a day on campus, and meet with the counselors so that they know you want to attend. If you get called for an interview, do your homework in advance, and let them know how you see yourself fitting in there in a club, sport, etc. There has also been an increase in the last two years of the early admissions process. Ask the school if they have one and commit earlier for better chances of getting in.

7. Get organized

Create a spreadsheet with the colleges you applied to so that you are aware of the majors you are interested in, upcoming tours, open houses, and deadlines – especially noting deadlines of financial aid forms that will need to be filled out prior to getting financial aid.

President Carey speaks at the Fall 2023 Open House.

Iona University hosted a Fall Open House for prospective students on its New Rochelle, N.Y., campus on Nov. 19, 2023.

Founded in 1940, Iona University is a master's-granting private, Catholic, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Iona's 45-acre New Rochelle campus and 28-acre Bronxville campus are just 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students and an alumni base of more than 50,000 around the world, Iona is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona is highly accredited, offering undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona students enjoy small class sizes, engaged professors and a wide array of academic programs across the School of Arts & Science; LaPenta School of Business; NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences; and Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Iona is widely recognized in prestigious rankings, including The Princeton Review’s 2024 national list of “The Best 389 Colleges” and The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse’s “2024 Best Colleges in America,” which ranked Iona at #66 in the nation overall and #8 in the nation among Catholic schools. Iona’s LaPenta School of Business is also accredited by AACSB International, a recognition awarded to just six percent of business schools worldwide. In addition, The Princeton Review recognized Iona’s on-campus MBA program as a “Best Business School for 2023.” Iona also offers a fully online MBA program for even greater flexibility. In July 2021, Iona announced the establishment of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences, which is now principally located on Iona’s Bronxville campus in collaboration with NewYork-Presbyterian. Connecting to its Irish heritage, the University also recently announced it is expanding abroad with a new campus in County Mayo, Ireland. A school on the rise, Iona officially changed its status from College to University on July 1, 2022, reflecting the growth of its academic programs and the prestige of an Iona education.