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Common Application Mistakes for First Generation Students

No Comments 31 January 2017

First-generation students are college applicants who are the first in their families to attend college. These students often go through the college application process by themselves.

Here are some mistakes first-generation students should avoid:

Going Through the College Application Process Without Any Guidance

You need a mentor. Find someone you trust and look up to. It can be a teacher, guidance counselor or club organizer with experience in the college application process. Ask your mentor any questions you might have, whether it’s about financial-related matters or editing your application essay.

Skipping Optional Application Sections

The Common Application has an additional information section that first-generation students could utilize to write an essay sharing their situation. This essay can demonstrate what college means to you, given your background. If you skip this essay, you could miss an opportunity to set yourself apart from other applicants.

Applying to One College

First-generation students often make the mistake of applying to a single college to save on application fees. In order to find the best fit and explore all your options, you need to apply to multiple colleges. Don’t be afraid to request a fee waiver — colleges typically waive application fees for low-income students.

If you have already taken the SAT, you will be eligible to receive four free college application waivers. You can contact a college to see if you qualify for a waiver.

Greenlight Scholarships Application

The Greenlight Scholars Application is a great option for applying to college. It is a free and streamlined application that allows you to apply to multiple colleges at once. This application was designed with first-generation and low-income students in mind. It allows students to share a more complete picture of their academic record, skills and experiences.

The Greenlight Scholars Application levels the playing field for students who are at a disadvantage during the college application process.

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How to Make Your Greenlight Scholars Application Stand Out

No Comments 10 November 2016


The Greenlight Scholars Application streamlines the college application process for you. But, it’s up to you to make sure that your college application stands out from among everyone else. Here are some tips to help make your Greenlight Scholars Application shine!

Clean up your online presence. More and more college admissions counselors are checking out applicants online, as many as 40% according to recent surveys. Your online presence could impact their decision. So, before you begin applying, be sure to clean up your online presence. Delete any inappropriate Facebook or Instagram posts and tweets. A good rule of thumb is to delete any social media post that you’d be embarrassed for your parents to see.

On the other hand, this is also a great opportunity to strengthen your social media identity. Create or update your LinkedIn profile, providing a professional accomplishments resume. Create a website to show off a portfolio of your work, if it is applicable to your chosen field. Even if your Greenlight Scholars Application is outstanding, a poor online presence could ruin it.

Strategically build your college list. It is important to strategically decide which colleges you want to send your Greenlight Scholars Application to. Apply to a healthy mix of safety, match, and reach schools. But, choosing a college isn’t just about identifying the best colleges. You should also use this time for self-reflection. Assess who you are, what you are good at and how your learning style will fit in with each college. Once you’ve settled on the right colleges, you will be able to better tailor your Greenlight Scholars Application to them.

Write an outstanding essay. Your application essay is the best way to make your Greenlight Scholars Application stand out. This is where you make your story heard. Greenlight Scholars partner schools are committed to helping low-income and first-generation students achieve their college dreams. Praising yourself can be hard to do sometimes, but your application essay is no place to be shy. Shine a light on your accomplishments. Share your hardships. Highlighting important aspects of your unique background will make your application more memorable. College admissions counselors want to hear how you’ve succeeded despite the obstacles in your way.

Think like an admissions counselor. If you were an admissions counselor, what would you want to see in a potential student? This is a crucial mindset to get your application noticed. While it is necessary for you to have the good grades and test scores that your college requires, your academic performance is not the only criteria they will consider.

Counselors want to see that you have really looked within yourself and found the drive and grit needed to succeed. They want to know what you will contribute to the college’s community. When colleges were asked what underrepresented students could do to improve their college admissions applications, 85% of the colleges said they would like to see these students improve their ability to tell their story.

Don’t throw away this opportunity. Utilize your Greenlight Scholars Application to make yourself look like an ideal student match for your dream college.

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Tips for Completing Your Greenlight Scholars Application

No Comments 01 November 2016

Don’t let expensive application fees and complicated admissions applications stop you from pursuing your college dreams. The Greenlight Scholars Application is a free application that makes it easy to apply to multiple colleges without time-consuming extra essays and questions for each college. Applying to college should be a simple, streamlined process. Here are some tips for using the Greenlight Scholars Application to achieve your college goals!

Target your college list. The Greenlight Scholars Application allows you to apply to many colleges at the same time. So, be sure to narrow down your college list as much as possible before you apply. Aim for a good mix of safety, match and reach schools. A safety school is a college where your grades and admissions test scores are above average for the college’s accepted students, a match school means that your grades and test scores fall perfectly in line with the college’s accepted students, and a reach school is one where your grades and test scores and GPA fall below the college’s accepted students. No matter what your chances are of being accepted into each college, every college on your list should be a good social and financial fit for you.

Share your story in your essay. The Greenlight Scholars Application is designed to showcase your strengths and talents. Share your story, so the colleges can see a more complete picture of you. The Greenlight Scholars partner colleges are passionate about serving talented first-generation and low-income students. Be yourself and tell them why you deserve a spot at their college. To do this, think like an admissions officer. On top of sharing your unique perspective, your essay should also display strong writing and an authentic voice. Have someone you trust read over your essay to ensure you hit all these points!

Talk with your counselor. If you haven’t already, develop a good relationship with your counselor, who will help you through the college admissions process. They can answer your questions and give you advice. Your counselor can review your Greenlight Scholars Application and make suggestions before you submit it to colleges. They can give you recommendations that speak to why you deserve a spot at that institution!

We want to make sure the Greenlight Scholars Application is simple and stress free. Please let us know if you run into any problems! Email us at if you need help or find inaccurate information.

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Is there Anything Else? – Answering Greenlight Scholars Essays Part 2

No Comments 25 October 2016

By Tyler Nakatsu, Manager of Community Engagement, Story2

The goals of this application are to reflect your unique interests, experiences, capabilities, and pursuits. Towards this end, is there anything else you would like us to know? (250 word limit)

For many students, and even some college counselors, the additional information section can be a baffling element of applications. Is it an extra essay? A resume? An extended activity list? A space for accolades? A writing sample? It’s best to think of it as an opportunity to share with colleges “anything else” they need to understand you as a student and person

Here are some examples of topics to discuss:  

A significant extracurricular activity (such as service, leadership, or art) that you have not fully described elsewhere  

  • Any extenuating circumstance(s) that may have affected your academic performance  
  • Major extracurricular academic work, such as scientific research or creative writing  
  • Employment or entrepreneurship  
  • Components of your identity, such as ethnicity, nationality, gender orientation, or disability that you feel colleges should know about

Can I use this space for an extra essay? Yes! If you didn’t select the defining moments essay in part one, you can share it here. Students who do not feel that they have obvious topics will most likely leave this section blank. That is 100 percent OK. You might, however, include an extra essay to reveal another aspect of your character you think colleges should know.

One key to answering this question is being brief and direct as you are limited to only 250 words. Speak directly to the college admission officer who will review your application. This section is your opportunity to share any unusual circumstances that might not show up in other parts of your application–have you moved a lot or attended multiple schools?  

The anything else prompt allows you to share a story that doesn’t fit neatly in anywhere else. What story you decide to focus on is entirely up to you. Just make sure you’re not rehashing information that’s in your application already.

This blog is part of a series to help students complete the Greenlight Scholars application essays. We invite you to use Story2 EssayBuilder™ — free for Greenlight Scholars — to plan, organize and complete all your admission and scholarship essays.

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Overcoming Adversity: Answering Greenlight Scholars Essay 4

No Comments 18 October 2016

By Tyler Nakatsu, Manager of Community Engagement, Story2

People learn many different things in many different ways. Describe a project or opportunity–in school or out–that challenged you, revealed something new or where you experienced failure. Reflect on what you learned, how you learned and how that learning influences your plans for college and the future.

This essay is an opportunity to explore how you work and learn. It’s a chance to reveal how you start with a goal, break it down into smaller parts, and take action to complete the larger project.  

What type of project should you write about? It doesn’t need to be one you were assigned in school or one you worked on alone. Some of the most memorable projects take place outside the classroom, and often are completed working with other people. But it should be something that mattered, something you worked on over an extended period of time

Reflect on the project, step by step. Were there particularly challenging parts? Moments when you were confused, or were called on to think out of the box or learn something new? You don’t need to go over every step of the project; instead, focus on those that were particularly challenging, or required you to rethink your approach or assumptions. Were there skills you learned, or anything about yourself, other than what was in the project itself?

Now take a step back and reflect on the project as a whole. When the project was completed, did you walk away with key takeaways that you have applied to other projects? How have these takeaways influenced your decision to apply to college or to pursue a certain major or career focus? How did the project challenge you to rethink your past or future?

Getting into college is only the beginning of a long journey of challenging projects. Colleges are looking for students who will go the distance, from admission to graduation, and into the world. This essay is one opportunity to show how you will go about that journey. What about how you work and learn do you want to want colleges to know? Share that story.  

This blog is part of a series to help students complete the Greenlight Scholars application essays. We invite you to use Story2 EssayBuilder™ — free for Greenlight Scholars — to plan, organize and complete all your admission and scholarship essays.

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