Practice Your Creative Writing Skills
When writing your college admissions essays, dont just draft an information dump that lists out your many achievements. Rather, craft a narrative that hooks your reader and pulls them in to the story of your life. Ask yourself: Why am I a compelling character? What has been the most intriguing part of my life so far? And why is my dream school the best next step in my life story? This, ultimately, is what you are trying to convince your reader of in your admissions essays. The task will be far easier if you have practice reading, writing, and thinking about stories.
Write A Fantastic Admissions Essay
When thinking about how to get into your dream school, a quality admissions essay can really help set you apart. Ideally, you want to strike that perfect balance between being professional and personalized to help you stand out.
The best approach is usually to prepare a draft or two and get feedback from your parents, friends, or teachers. While this process can take a long time, its important to keep revising until youre completely happy with it.
Display A Strong Work Ethic
In addition to strong academic performance, schools are inclined to admit students with a strong track record outside the classroom. If youre displaying a strong sense of work ethic in matters related to your desired area of study, youll likely stand out from other applicants.
Some of the obvious ways to display work ethic are part-time jobs, internships, or volunteer programs. But if these options are limited, theres nothing stopping you from creating your own form of work. This shows you are capable of having initiative and adjusting your priorities all while providing valuable real-world experience. Combined with achieving good grades and extracurricular involvement, youll likely make more of an impression on admissions officers.
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In This Episode We Explore:
- 1:06 How Julie went from dropping out of college, to making a career of helping students get in
- 4:33 The hardest part about taking a break from college: Loneliness + pretending everythings okay
- 5:57 Why you should stop calling yourself a B student + Breaking through limiting beliefs
- 11:24 Julies method for helping students go out and find their passions
- 14:05 How to show colleges that youre different from everyone else: Do what actually matters to you.
- 17:28 #1 admissions myth: You have to volunteer abroad to stand out
- 19:02 Why not to chase after popular schools + 3 ways to find your perfect college fit
- 22:23 Time management & procrastination tips for busy teens
- 27:49 Rapid Q&A: Julies dream life, book recommendation, life-changing habit, best received advice, and favorite part about life
Tip #1: Dont Just Rely On Legacy
When you go look for advice to get to your dream college, you will find some websites stating that you should apply to your parents alma mater. While this works for some, this isnt always true for many. So it would be better not to rely on your mom or dads connections solely. Apply all the useful tips youll find in this article instead.
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Dont Wait Until Your Senior Year To Start Planning For College
College planning = early planning. Most colleges review your academic record beginning with your ninth-grade courses, and many will also consider high school courses taken in middle school. Jump-starting your college planning as early as freshman year gives you the advantage of more time to strengthen your academics with improved grades and course rigor. Additionally, youll want to think about how you and your family will pay for college: Will you apply for financial aid? Will you apply to colleges that offer generous scholarships? Starting early gives you and your family time to discuss this important, but often overlooked, area of college applications.
When you start planning early, you also allow yourself time to explore different college campuses. Try to schedule college visits during school breaks in order to maximize the number of colleges youll visit to help you find your best college fit. Finally, when you start planning for college early, youll avoid extra stress during senior year. Most of our seniors submit all their applications well before Thanksgiving, so they can enjoy time off without the additional stress of filling out applications!
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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Get Involved In Community Service
The importance of community service in your overall college application profile cannot be overstated. Selective colleges use prospective students involvement in their communities, particularly with people different than them, to evaluate their maturity and empathy.
Theres no right or wrong way to serve your community; maybe you want to do something closely related to your interests, or maybe you just set aside time to help others in whatever way you can. Regardless of how you do it, serving your community is something you should commit to doing at least once a month, and more if you can.
How To Deal With College Rejection: 5 Essential Tips
Unfortunately, even if you heed all the tips above, you could still wind up with a college rejection letter. I’ll be honest: getting rejected sucks. But it certainly doesn’t mean your academic career is over.
Here are some ways to cope with a college rejection, as well as options on what to do after you get rejected from college:
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Make A Reasonable List Of Colleges
Some students get fixated one a small handful of dream colleges , while others anxiously apply to twenty or more schools. Neither of these is a good or strategic approach. Rather, its important that you create a balanced college list.
Its most important to have a range of selectivity in your list. Make sure that in addition to your reach schools , you have target and safety schools too, places where the acceptance rates are more forgiving and your chances of admission are thus higher.
Structuring The Waitlist Letter
Your child should briefly thank the admissions committee for reconsidering their application and reiterate their commitment to the school. They should mention that its their first choice, if it is.
2.Mention new accomplishments not included in the original application
This is where your child would, ideally, address the weaknesses of their original application, by describing things that theyve accomplished since they submitted their original application.
If your child worked hard at a subject in which they previously struggled, or improved their standardized test scores, they should mention that. For instance, Julie consistently earned Bs in Spanish, but began tutoring Spanish-speaking children in December and found her conversational Spanish vocabulary quickly improving. Shes earning a solid A in senior spring semester.
If your child redoubled their commitment to an extracurricular in which their previous commitment was less intense, they should mention that. Omars upcoming state championship soccer game would land in this category, but so too would Julies aforementioned tutoring gig.
The accomplishments your child mentions should not span more than 1-2 general themes, so that there is enough space to explain them thoroughly. And your child should be careful NOT to reiterate information that their original application already contains. The admissions committees already know all that!
3. Your childs interest in the college
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Tip #: Do Well On The Sat And Act
Your SAT or ACT results also determine whether you will get accepted to your dream college or not. These two tests are created to measure your intellectual ability or basically what you have learned in school. There are several ways you can prepare for both of these tests to boost your chances of getting admitted to college. For instance, if you decide to take the SAT, the following tips may be useful:
Extracurriculars: Avoid The Laundry List
If your dream institution is a highly selective college, its safe to assume that most who apply come with a high level academic preparedness, says Jason Nevinger, the Universitys director of admissions. Thats where your extracurricular activities come in.
But beware of a long laundry list. Explain how you contributed to the success or the creation of a particular association, how deeply you really got involved. Show them which opportunities you pursued to do things that are meaningful to you.;Theres no wrong club to be in, assures Nevinger.
Above all, many admission officers want to see how a student contributes to his community, or within her school. It is who they are as individuals, how they communicate, and how they interact with people. That really tips the scale in favor of one student over another.
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Get Glowing / Balanced Recommendations
Many colleges will require you to submit letters of recommendation, either from a prior or current instructor, an employer, a counselor, or all of the above. A letter of recommendation is another selection tool that helps the admissions board learn more about you and what you can bring to the school.
College admissions offices take these letters very seriously, so you should, too. Some colleges only require one letter while others request three or even four. It all depends on the school and their application guidelines. It is vital to be professional in your approach when asking for a letter of recommendation. Be prepared to explain yourself and why you are deserving of a letter. Its our advice to ask in person, rather than through email or a phone call. Make it personal and professional. Weve included two sample recommendations to give you a better idea of what these letters are all about:
And one more from a high school coach:
See Rejection As An Opportunity
Think of the possibility of being rejected as an opportunity to try something new. You may even end up in a school thats perfect for you in ways that you didnt initially think of. This way, your fears of not getting into your dream school will be squashed by the hope of finding your perfect school.
The college application process is not one-sided; they are just as interested in you as you are in them and if your fears about not getting into your dream school come true, its not necessarily a bad thing. You are stronger and more adaptable than you think. So go forth and prosper, your future is bright, regardless of the school you go to!
If you need any additional college assistance and feel you would benefit from some one-on-one time, contact our College Admissions experts.;
Good luck and stay safe!
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Make A College Application Calendar
Weve written on this more at length here, but its also crucial to remember that applying to college doesnt take place just during your senior year. Starting to research and visit schools during your junior year is important, as it will ensure you have enough time.
In reality, college admissions officers look at your entire high school career. That isnt to say you need to be a perfectly groomed applicant on the first day of freshman year, but the choices you make along the way will ultimately make their way into your application.
Have More Than One Dream
Ive heard the term Dont put all your eggs in one basket for most of my lifetime. That advice fits perfectly here. Its human nature to have one place you gravitate to more than others. Unfortunately, this gets dangerous when your dream school ends up being the only one you like on your final college list.
When Im helping my students build a list, our goal is to have a bunch of colleges theyre excited about. Whether its the top school on your list or the last safety, ask yourself, If this was the only school I got accepted to, would I be happy and excited to attend?
If the answer isnt yes, do more research. Your list should be balanced from a selectivity standpoint and have lots of colleges you love.
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Tip #: Apply To At Least Three Schools
So Stanford is your dream school? But what if your credentials and test scores did not make the cut? Will you just wallow in self-pity and throw your dreams of finishing college education?
One of the best advice that we can share with you to successfully get into college is to apply to at least three schools. There is a higher chance that youll get admitted this way than focusing on just one school.
Demonstrate A Strong Work Ethic
In addition to strong academic success, colleges want students with a strong track record outside the classroom. The best way to do this is through a part-time job, internship, or volunteer program. If it is related to your desired area of study, even better!
This shows that you can show initiative and adjust your priorities, while also providing valuable real-world experience for your application. Especially if you combine this with good grades and extracurriculars, admissions officers will definitely be impressed.
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Tips For College Admission
A good high school GPA, especially combined with a challenging curriculum, is one of the most important admission factors at any institution of higher education. If you have the option, choose to take as many challenging courses as you can handle in high school, such as college prep, Advanced Placement , honors, and International Baccalaureate courses.
Not only can these kinds of courses help you earn college credits, but getting good test scores on AP tests can dramatically improve your chances of acceptance. Whether you choose to take advanced courses or not, your top priority throughout all four years of high school should be to earn the best grades you possibly can.
Followed by your GPA and the strength of your high school curriculum, your standardized test scores arguably matter the most for admission although many schools have started to make these tests optional.
Prior to and during your junior year of high school, you should spend sufficient time preparing for standardized tests by enrolling in prep courses, hiring a tutor, working through study guides, and taking practice tests.
Once youre ready, take both the SAT and the ACT. Colleges generally accept either test, and you may do better on one test than the other. If you dont score well on your first attempts, you always have the option to retake them.
To learn more about early action vs. early decision, check out Chinh Ngos article on the decision-making process.
Youre More Than A Number
After colleges identify a big batch of students with outstanding credentials, differences among them become more important, admissions deans say. Among some of the attributes they tell me they would like to see evidence of are: leadership, risk taking, emotional intelligence, fire for learning, critical thinking, curiosity, empathy, optimism, grit, perseverance and the ability to overcome obstacles.
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What Else Do Dream Schools Care About
It depends on the school. Thats why you want to do your research. Every university has admissions counselors who will tell what they value most. Many even have a section on their website titled what we look for.
Listen here for more tips on how to get into your dream college. University of Rochester admissions directors Jason Nevinger and Kim Cragg spill the beans with Quadcast host Sandra Knispel.
Show That You Are Interested
Proactively show that you are interested in your chosen college by planning a campus visit, a tour, or interview with the admissions staff, current students, alumni, and professors in your expected major. Having this knowledge while writing your essay or during your interview is vital as it will show admissions officers how dedicated and passionate you are about attending their school.
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Colleges Want To Be Your First Choice
About one in five colleges allot considerable importance to demonstrated interest, whereby applicants convey their willingness to attend the college theyre applying to. Open those emails. Connect with admissions officers. Let them know when you visit campus. Only those who are sure about their first choice and dont need to compare financial aid packages should choose the strongest expression of demonstrated interest: applying early decision, which is binding.