Need some help understanding the admission process?
Whether you have a student at home heading off to college for the first time or want to further your career with a graduate degree, we explain the ins and outs of getting into college — including Bradley.
Applying to college is one of the most important points in someone’s life. As exciting as it is to take those steps toward the future, the process can sometimes be stressful. But it doesn’t need to be.
Once the decision has been made where to apply, use this guide to help you navigate. We’ll describe the process in a clear and straightforward way; we’ll also give you some unique insights into what an admission staff looks for in an application. And since we hope your choices include Bradley, we’ll point out Bradley-specific information that can help you or your student achieve your collegiate goals.
Take Charge of Your Application
Most colleges offer the option of using either the Common Application, which allows you to apply to multiple schools with one form, or the school’s own. Which application you choose is almost entirely up to you. For example, Bradley’s Admission Office doesn’t have a preference, and roughly 80% of Bradley applicants use the Common Application.
Admission counselors stress you should be diligent in filling out your application paperwork. Don’t leave any questions unanswered since admission staff do notice blank spaces.
They also urge applicants to invest time and effort in the personal statement/essay, since it’s an opportunity to show how you stand out compared to others. Don’t rely on spelling and grammar checkers — be sure to proofread it multiple times. And whatever you do, don’t write your essay on your phone!
The transcript is another major component. Although there are many online guides suggesting the GPA averages for various schools, Bradley admission staff say don’t become obsessed by it. Averages mean there are numbers higher — and lower — so there’s no reason to rule out a school prematurely.
Admission staff are also well aware classes taken during the COVID-19 pandemic may be pass/fail instead of the usual letter grades. They take this into consideration when reviewing your materials, and it won’t impact your application negatively.
There’s also no real need to pad your application either, especially in the activities section. Admission staff want to see what you’re passionate about, whether that’s a club, sports, student government or service. They want to know the real person who’s applying, not someone following an artificial checklist.
One of the biggest differences for schools across the country these days are testing requirements. Some colleges still adhere to required standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, while others already have or will soon remove the requirement.
An increasing number of schools, like Bradley, offer the choice to apply with or without test scores; however, most of these schools will require you to declare which path you’re choosing on your application paperwork. Most schools that offer this choice — including Bradley — won’t differentiate between candidates based on this choice.
When it comes to letters of recommendation, if the school requires them, the key is to find people who know you well and can talk about your strengths in a personal way. This is especially true for any of the STEM fields or even fine and performance arts. A letter from a teacher or advisor who knows your abilities in that area can give admission staff a better picture.
Cover the Financial Side, Too
When it comes to paying for your education, you should file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and send a copy to the school(s). This allows colleges to determine a student's eligibility for grants, scholarships and loans. FAFSA applications open in October for the admission cycle, and they recommend you file as early as possible.
About 90% of Bradley students receive some form of financial assistance. “Bradley offers substantial merit scholarships and need-based grants to those who qualify,” said Abbi Gashaw, Bradley’s director of financial assistance. For example, the university awards merit scholarships at different levels from a GPA of 2.8 and above. Bradley’s Office of Financial Assistance begins processing FAFSA requests in November.
Don’t Delay, Do It Now
On that same theme, admission staff urge you to apply as early as possible, and not wait for deadlines. As hinted above, early application will help admission staff to not just give a decision on admission, but also the financial package, if you’re accepted.
Important note: admission staff are there to help, so use them as much as necessary. That’s their job. Don’t be hesitant to contact them, and ask plenty of questions.
Just remember, the admission process is not meant to be stressful. Applicants just need to do their best and make sure to check things over. The application tells admission staff about the person behind the application, so don’t be sloppy or tardy, and let the application be a reflection of who you are. Good luck!