Here are some tips for completing college or career school applications:

• Keep it real. Don’t exaggerate accomplishments or claim things that aren’t true.

• Give letter-writers time. If you are asking teachers, coaches, or counselors for letters of recommendation, ask several weeks before the letters are due.

• Beat the deadline. Reduce the chance your application will get lost in the shuffle: Submit it well before the deadline.

• Apply online. It’s easier and faster.

• Emphasize your uniqueness. Colleges like to have students with different viewpoints, backgrounds and experiences. If you can add to that mix, let them know.

• Keep it clean online. Don’t have anything on your social media pages that you wouldn’t want a college admissions officer to see.

• Submit one application for many schools. Some colleges and universities share common online applications. Once you complete the application for one school, you can submit copies of it to other schools. It saves a lot of time.

• Protect your hard work by keeping complete copies of everything you send to each school.

— U.S. Department of Education

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