How To Get Into College: Tips To Help You Apply & Get Accepted
Whether you have a single dream school in mind, are planning to apply to all the top colleges, or just want to stay close to home, the college admissions process can seem like a minefield to prospective students. But in addition to having a strong grasp on the timeline and application requirements, there are also some overall factors to keep in mind during your high school experience that will maximize your chances of success at selective colleges.
Volunteering Experience With Measurable Impact
Colleges love it when an applicant has not simply volunteered but has also made a measurable impact with their volunteering efforts. What does this mean exactly? If you have volunteered somewhere or for an organization, your assistance should have resulted in a noticeable, positive change to the group, community, or area you were aiming to help.
For instance, say you volunteered at a local library. Maybe the library was struggling to get funds to continue operating, and you came up with the idea to hold a 24-hour reading marathon in order to raise money. The fundraiser ended up making more than $5,000, a figure that would be a concrete indicator of the positive impact your service had on the library. With your college application, then, you could specifically mention how your initiative allowed the library to remain open.
Note that you don’t need to have assumed a leadership role in order to have made a positive impact through your service. That said, college admissions committees are often very big fans of students who show evidence of their budding leadership skills.
The Ultimate Admissions Guide: 75 Steps For Getting Into Your Dream College
Applying to college can be both exciting and stressful. With so many colleges to consider and important deadlines to meet, daunting might be an understatement for the work ahead. Not to mention, the competition is fierce among the many highly qualified applicants applying to elite schools.
But with the right approach and a better understanding of what makes a strong application, applying to college can be an empowering processespecially when the big envelope arrives in the mail. In the meantime, you have a lot to think about, so weve created an admissions road map that is designed to help you in applying to, and ultimately enrolling in, the college of your choice.
College Application Advice with Ashley McNaughton
Need help or advice on applying to college? Check out this episode of the YesCollege podcast. Scott was joined by Ashley McNaughton, founder of ACM College Consulting, LLC who had so much great information to share on the subject.
Admission rates at some of the most common dream schools are getting lower each year. Even if you arent interested in one of the schools included in the above graph, its never been more challenging to get into the college of your choice. You must work hard, study hard, and stay focused on your dream school to ensure optimal consideration for admission.
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Takeaways: What Looks Good On A College Application
Applying to college is tough, and knowing what to put on your applications to make yourself stand out is even tougher. What looks really good on a college application?
Generally speaking, colleges want to see your passion, intellectual curiosity, willingness to challenge yourself, and academic accomplishments.
More specifically, though, colleges typically prefer applicants who have most or all of the following characteristics:
- Good grades and a challenging course load
- Strong test scores
- Honest, specific, and eloquent essays
- A spike in your extracurricular activities
- Compelling letters of recommendation
- Volunteer experience with clear impact on the groups or places you’ve helped
- Any relevant or impactful work experience
Finally, as you apply to college and try to think of good things to put on a college application, make sure you’re aware of the following truths about the application process:
- It’s better to have a spike than to be well rounded
- Essays are important!
- A B in a hard course is more impressive than an A in an easy course
- You can still get into your dream school even if your application isn’t perfect
Verification Of Ged Diplomas
Colleges can easily verify GED diplomas received from students by using the trustworthy Parchment Services that work together with GED Testing Service to provide digital GED diplomas transcripts and avoid unlawful admissions.
They do not provide a verbal verification or any other verification, only digital transcripts that are using secure Blue Ribbon delivery technology.
These digital secure Smart Transcripts offer also explanations and evaluations of the GED diplomas. Parchment works with academic and non-academic institutions. So, you should earn your credentials in the right way and avoid any scams!
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The Grand Overview: Getting Into The Ivy League
How top schools do admissions:
- Nonprofit schools exist to create value in the world.
- In the process of college admissions, schools want to maximize the value they create in the world.
- Thus, schools want to admit students who will eventually change the world.
- What does it take to change the world? Deep focus, passion, and competence.
- How do you predict which 17-year-olds are going to change the world eventually? Deep, prior achievement: prior success is the best predictor of future success.
What this means for your application:
- You need to develop a huge spike in your application. You need to show deep achievement in an area of your passionsomething that sets you apart on a national or international level.
- Admissions is not a crapshoot for everyone. If you’re a super strong, compelling applicant, admissions at a top school is almost certain. If you’re weak, you’ll likely get rejected.
- “Well rounded” is the kiss of death. Well rounded puts you in the crapshoot because you are similar to all other well-rounded applicants.
What this means for what you should do:
- You need to reorient your time around focusing on developing your spike. To develop a big spike, you need to focus and work hard.
- Dream big. What is your area of passion? If you had infinite time, what would you try to accomplish in this area?
- Cut out everything that doesn’t matter. This means AP classes you don’t need, extracurriculars that don’t add anything to your application, and other time wasters.
Seek Support From Family And Friends
Applying to college all on your own is exhausting. Theres so much to remember, including the various moving parts of the application itself , the deadlines, interviews, visits, and more. Our advice? Get support from the people around you in whatever way you can.
Visit schools with your parents. Ask family friends about different schools they attended to learn more about them. Practice interviewing and review your essays with a trusted friend or parent. This process is almost possible to do alone, so dont be afraid to seek help!
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How To Get Into Harvard And The Ivy League By A Harvard Alum
Getting into elite schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and others is a goal of many high school students. How exactly to accomplish this is often a mystery to students and parents going through the admissions process. Lots of unhelpful and vague advice abound, especially from people who have never gained admission themselves to these schools.
In high school, I got into every school I applied to, including Harvard, Princeton, MIT, and Stanford, and I attended Harvard for college. I also learned a lot about my classmates and the dynamics of college admissions in ways that were never clear to me in high school. Now, I’m sharing this expertise with you.
I’ve written the most comprehensive guide to getting into top schools. I’m going to explain in detail what admissions officers at Ivy League schools are really looking for in your application. More importantly, I’m going to share an actionable framework you can use to build the most compelling application that’s unique to you.
Myth : Only Perfect Applicants Get Admitted
Many students assume that if they have one little flaw in their application, such as a below-average test score or slightly low grade in a class, their chances of getting admitted to college will be slim to none.
This just isn’t true.
Yes, a very low test score or a very poor transcript may cause you to get rejected from a college, but many colleges use a holistic admission process, meaning they look at and consider each individual applicant as a whole. So even if your application has a not-so-stellar component on it, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a reject.
In fact, at particularly selective colleges, such as the Ivy League, you’ll often hear of cases in which ostensibly “perfect” applicants got rejected. This is most likely because they didn’t have a spike in their applications .
Overall, just try your best to produce the best application you can, and then hope for a good result!
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Show Youre A Hard Worker
As if going to school and volunteering werent enough, colleges also look for students with real-world experience and a passion to expand learning outside the classroom. A part-time job, summer employment, volunteering, extracurricular activities, and other outside-of-the-classroom activities demonstrate your ability to take initiative and adjust priorities. If you can handle all of the above while going to school and maintaining a high GPA, colleges will take notice.
So if time permits:
What Does It Really Take To Make A Difference In The World
In a word, focus. Relentless focus.
The world has gotten so specialized now that the days of the successful dilettante are over. Each field has gotten so developed, and the competitors so sophisticated, that you need to be a deep expert in order to compete.
If you become a scientist, you’re competing with other scientists who are thinking about the same problems all day, every day. And you’re all competing for the same limited pool of research money.
If you’re a novelist, you’re competing with prolific writers who are drafting dozens of pages every day. And you’re all competing for the limited attention of publishers and readers.
This applies to pretty much every field. There really is no meaningful area that rewards you for being a jack of all trades .
If you don’t have your head 100% in the game, you’re not going to accomplish nearly as much as those who are 100% committed. This is what it takes to make a revolutionary difference in the real world.
This does not mean you can’t have multiple interests. Successful people often have wide-ranging interests and do especially interesting things at the intersection of them. I’m just saying that it’s harder to be a true Renaissance man now than it was during the Renaissance, when much less was known about the world. Life necessarily has tradeoffsthe more areas you try to explore, the less deeply you’ll explore any one of them.
To find evidence of this, we looked at what Princeton’s admissions office had to say:
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What If I Don’t Know What My Passion Is Yet What If I Don’t Have Anything I Care About That Much
This is a hard problem and a large question in itself, and by nature everyone’s different. The best thing I can do for now is give you a set of guidelines you can work through to start your brainstorming process:
- Name five moments from the past two years in which you felt especially excited, happy, or proud.
- For each of these, deconstruct the experience. What specifically about that experience made you feel this way? Was it the actual experience itself, or was it an abstract property that excited you?
- This doesn’t have to be academic or extracurricular in natureit can be social or casual. Just free think here.
- For example, let’s say one of these moments was when you gave a friend a birthday gift, and she loved it. Was this meaningful to you because you cared about this person? Or was it because you liked knowing this person and predicting exactly what she needed to make her life better? Was it because you liked the process of hunting down the best bargain for this gift?
If this seems like a challenge for a lot of readers, then let me know in the comments section below. I might write a more detailed guide about this if there’s enough interest.
Jump To Specific Sections In This Guide:
- Bolstering Your Academic Profile When it comes to admissions, academics are essential.
- Prove Youre a Well-Rounded Student Whats a well-rounded student? Thats you, after you read our tips on how to make your application really stand out.
- Get Involved in Your Community Your community can be an important asset in helping you get into your dream college.
- Show Youre a Hard Worker Hard work pays off, and this couldnt be more true when it comes to applying for college.
- Write a Killer Admissions Essay Your admissions essay is crucial in granting you the edge that you need to stand out among the other applicants.
- Get Glowing / Balanced Recommendations Believe it or not, recommendations can make or break an application so make sure your letters are up to par.
- Get Plugged into Campus Early The earlier you get involved, the better your chances of admissions will be.
- Go the Extra Mile By putting in extra effort upfront, your chances of getting in only improve.
- Never Give Up Motivation is key to getting into your dream college. Let us share a few tips on how to stay on top of your admissions game.
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Compelling Letters Of Recommendation
Most colleges require at least one letter of recommendation from either your high school counselor or a high school teacher .
The 2019 NACAC survey indicates that 54% of colleges consider teacher recommendations at least moderately important, while a higher 55% consider counselor recommendations the same. Therefore, we can say it’s pretty important to secure great recommendation letters for your application.
If you’re asking for a letter from a teacher, make sure to choose someone whose class you got a high grade in and who is familiar with your abilities, ambitions, and interests. Typically, you’ll need to submit at least one letter from a teacher who taught a core class .
It’s a good idea to also get a letter from a teacher who works in the field you plan to major in. So if you got an A in AP English and plan to major in English, asking that teacher for a recommendation letter would give a great boost to your application.
While you don’t have to be best buddies with the teacher you ask, they should definitely know you well, beyond the classroom, so they can effectively explain to admissions committees what makes you special, that is, what makes you worth admitting.
For example, if you did research with a particular teacher, are part of a club this teacher coaches or leads, or helped out this teacher with a project, this would be a good person to ask to write a letter for you.
Study Hard For The Sat
SAT or ACT scores show how you rank compared to students across the country. Theyre a key component of your college application. That said, a great score on this test will greatly improve your candidacy. For example, lets say you have a GPA of 3.3, which is below the average of your target school. And your SAT score is 1290. Youll have a 17% chance of getting in. But, if you get a 1450, your chances jump up to about 50%! This can be calculated using an admissions calculator.
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Think Bigwhat Can Be Your Spike
I want you to take a moment and think ambitiously, freed from the constraints you’re facing in your life.
Let’s say you had to go to school but had zero homework, and you didn’t need to do any studying or test prep. This gives you about 40 hours every week outside of school.
What do you think you could achieve in this time, over a full year, by pursuing your interests? Think big.
Here are a few examples:
- Like a particular academic subject in the sciences or humanities? Try to find a national level competition that you can rank well in. Find out how to excel in this competition, and work hard to meet the challenge.
- In the sciences, there are the well-known Olympiad competitions, as well as Science Bowl and Science Olympiad.
- In the humanities, there are competitions for speech/debate and writing .
- Passionate about a unique cause? Try to start a club or nonprofit group. Use methods that you know well to raise awareness, like social media and Kickstarter. Imagine if you started a viral phenomenon like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Try to do something good, in a quantifiable wayconsider the number of people you could help, the number of students you could teach, or the amount of money you could raise. Imagine recruiting your friends to help you out and growing this to a nationwide effort.
These are just the more obvious suggestionsthere are a lot more better ideas you can come up with on your own.
Again, think big.