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Our advising team consists of former Admissions Officers as well as students and graduates from the nation’s best schools who have recently gone through the application process themselves. We understand that applying to college, while extremely exciting, can also be very stressful. Read on to find out what several of’s Admissions Experts wish they knew when they were applying to college.

And, for more guidance on your essays and the college application process in general, sign up for a monthly plan to work with an admissions coach 1-on-1.

“Start as early as possible!”

Allison, Harvard ‘23

“There is life after college.”

Daphne, University of Chicago ‘17

“I wish I knew to do my research to find more niche, school-specific topics to dive into in the supplements. I also wish I knew that ‘optional’ really still meant mandatory in most cases.”

Genevieve, Harvard University ‘20

“One visit won’t tell you everything.”

Mariko, Yale University ‘21

“I wish I knew the time involved that went into writing all of the application prompts. I definitely wish I had started earlier.”

Rouhin, University of California – Berkeley ‘18

“I wish my learning differences had been identified earlier. I would have had better grades and been a stronger applicant.”

Gerene, Admissions Officer

“Extracurriculars are a really really effective way to stand out — I wish I would’ve spent more time working through research, getting involved with science, etc.”

Sami, Yale University ‘22

“I wish I knew about advising services like! I had no idea support like that was available, and it would have saved a lot of stress.”

Elinor, Brown University ‘21

“Think of your ‘fit’ with the schools you are applying to, not just whether or not you are likely to be accepted! Consider the weather, type of accommodation, student life, sports, extracurriculars, curriculum, and accessibility of different opportunities (e.g. research and physician shadowing).”

Lara, Harvard University ‘23

“I wish I knew that there is more than one college where I could have been both happy and successful; there is not just one ‘dream school.’”

Caroline, University of Notre Dame ‘20

“I wish I would’ve understood the importance of getting started on my college apps earlier.”

Carolyn, Stanford University ‘20

“It is better to be great at one thing than good at everything.”

Rashmi, Vanderbilt University ‘21

“Keep your options open when applying.”

Lily, Washington University in St. Louis, ‘20

“I wish I kept in mind available support for premed and STEM students when building a college list, rather than just focusing on what majors were offered.”

Marisa, Yale University ‘21

“You don’t need to be so philosophical and grandiose.”

Lucas, Harvard University ‘23

“I wish I had seen the Common App before the fall semester of my senior year.”

Maria, Harvard University ‘20

“I wish I knew more of the ‘dark side’ of each school I was applying to. I think applying to a lot of amazing schools meant that the information that was given to me was very biased. Every school has things that they aren’t proud of, and I wish I would’ve known those parts.”

Bryan, Stanford University ‘20

“Think long and hard about what the criteria you’re looking for in a school. Initially, I built my college list on prestige of program, and it wasn’t until I received my decisions that the rankings didn’t matter nearly as much as the college culture to me.”

Austin, Stanford University ‘25

“Take breaks, and take breaks often. Doing well isn’t worth comprising your physical and mental wellbeing.”

Bailee, Brown University, ‘21

“Everyone is eligible for scholarships, and they are always worth looking into.”

Henry, Stanford University ‘23

“How to write essays. How to build a college list.”

Phillip, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ‘15

“Take advantage of all the opportunities available to you in college, both inside and outside the classroom, to the fullest extent you can!”

Kaveh, Princeton University ‘20

“Seek out non-university funded financial aid!”

Gagan, Duke University ‘13

“Finish your CA essay by September/October at the latest.”

Ishaani, Brown University ‘21

“I wish I was more aware of the different fields of study open to me, because I was so set on studying one subject that I didn’t consider any other opportunities.”

Ruqaiyah, Yale University ‘23

“That it was all going to be okay in the end.”

Finn, Harvard University ‘22

This article was based on an interview with’s Admissions Experts. If you want to get 1-on-1 help with your college applications from a Admissions Expert, register with today.