Estimating Your Chances Of Admission
By understanding what colleges look for in applicants, you can figure out which schools qualify as safety, match, or reach schools for you. You can focus on the average SAT/ACT scores and GPA of accepted students while keeping in mind the other factors that come into play for holistic admission schools.
If your own scores and GPA are much higher than those of the average accepted student, then you might consider that school a safety. If the reverse is true, then it might be a reach school for you.
To help you more precisely estimate your chances, we’ve developed a handy admission calculator. But before showing you how to use it to make your list, let’s go over the different ways you can research your colleges of interest.
Importance Of Extracurricular Activities
Students will often ask me what types of extracurricular activities they should choose. That is, what do colleges look for?;The good news and the bad news is that there is no right answer. Thats bad news because if there were a clear concise formula, life would be much simpler, wouldnt it? You would know what looked good and just go do it. Life is not so simple. The good news, though is that because there is no right answer, there is also no wrong answer.
Let me reinforce the idea that colleges are communities, and they want students that;will enhance that sense of community. If we all had the same resume, a college would be a mighty boring place.
Any activity in which you engage is likely to enrich some aspect of their campus as long as you do something. You just need to have meaningful activities to bring to the table, so its important to;examine your interests. Choose activities that support these preferences and you are bound to like what you do. That enthusiasm will shine through and reflect positively on you.
The reigning thought on extracurricular activities is that schools would rather have students who demonstrate depth in a limited number of activities, as opposed to breadth. It is fine to have 1, 2, or 3 areas of sincere interest that are evident to colleges.
One student had extracurricular activities that were almost exclusively related to environmental science. Seem too narrow? Consider the list of activities:
Retention And Graduation Rates
What percentage of students drop out after the first year? What percentage graduates in four years? In five years? Good retention and graduation rates are signs of a school’s quality and student satisfaction, so sit down and review some of the statistics. Figuring out if it takes more than four years to graduate will also help with your financial planning.
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Extracurricular Activities & Involvement
Students can standout by displaying passionate involvement in a few extracurricular activities, especially those that demonstrate leadership, initiative, and community impact. A perfect example is being an active and involved member of the National Society of High School Scholars. NSHSS offers a number of leadership programs, such as the NSHSS Ambassador program, and starting up an NSHSS Chapter within the high school, that can help give students the experience and edge they need in applying to a competitive university.
A common recurring theme that colleges look for in students is depth, not breadth, of experience. Colleges like to see angled and proficient students with focused passions, not necessarily well-rounded students who are marginally adept in many different things. In other words, substantive commitment to a few select activities is preferred over widespread participation in several activities that have minor significance. When preparing your college applications, write a detailed outline or résumé to showcase any extracurricular activities or meaningful involvement youve had outside the classroom.
How Many Colleges Should You Apply To
Most students should apply to somewhere between 12 to 15 colleges. There are no guarantees that you will be accepted to your desired school, but you should have a rough idea about your chances of admission to each school. These colleges should be a mix of target, reach, and likely schools, any of which youd be happy to attend.
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How To Narrow Down Which Colleges To Apply To
Before you start applying to schools, take a few minutes to evaluate your scores and how they match up to the schools you want to apply to. Try sorting your schools into safety, match, and reach. Once youve done this, take a hard look at the schools and strike off the schools you wouldnt attend, even if you got an offer. Keep an open mind during this process; if you havent visited the campus or met with any students, be extra careful not to evaluate a school on its reputation alone.
Sort your list of schools into safety, match, and reach. Take schools off the list that you wouldnt attend, even if you got an offer. Finally, evaluate your list realistically; make sure your columns dont have more reach schools than match or safety schools.
If you have the time and the means, visit as many schools on your list as you can in order to get a feel for different kinds of colleges. Even if you can only visit one school, you can learn a lot from the one school you visit. Take notes as you walk around the campus; how do you like the size of the school? What does a suburban campus really look like? If youre interested in an urban school, have you spent any time in an urban environment? Is there green space ? Do you like the dorms? What are the students like?
Making Your College List: 3 Extra Tips
So far, this guide has mainly focused on the hard data of picking schools. To help you make concrete choices about your safety, match, and reach schools, you can focus on the numbers: average SAT/ACT scores, average GPA, and your chances of admission.
Beyond estimating your chances, you should consider other factors when making your college list. There are a number of factors to think about, but for the purposes of this guide, let’s focus on three main tips.
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College Application Fees Add Up
The average application fee at over 900 colleges in the country is $44. If you were to apply to four schools, youll need to cough up almost $200 in application fees. Bump that up to 10 colleges, and youre up to $500 in application fees alone.;
The fees dont stop there, either. Youll also need to consider the cost of sending your SAT and ACT scores to colleges. You have the option to send them to four schools for free, but you wont be able to see your scores before sending them . If you want to know your test results before forwarding them to the colleges of your dreams, youll have to pay $12 per score report.
The good news is that colleges and test centers often waive fees for those who demonstrate financial need. .
More On Getting Ready For College
Still looking for more information related to college admissions? Accredited Schools Online provides a wide-ranging library of resources to help students feel educated and confident about their college journey.
Did the standard application deadline slip past you? While not all schools provide extended admissions deadlines, this guide provides advice and resources for students who are concerned theyll have to wait an extra year to begin college because of missing an application deadline.
Degree-seekers hoping to avoid the competition and stress associated with typical college admissions often feel drawn to nonselective schools that admit students regardless of prior academic performance. If this sounds like a fit for you, check out this guide.
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Get Your Priorities In Order
You have priorities when it comes to your college education, right?
Maybe the school size and location means something to you, or maybe its the unique programs that will be available to you.
Maybe theres a specific degree you want that isnt widely available, and thats why a school is on your list.
Draw up the pros and cons of each school, then sit down and really think about what matters to you.
Whatever the top three priorities are for you, make sure the school you choose to attend has at least two.
What Is A Reach School
Many students pick reach schools that are more like snowballs chance in hell schools. Theres no harm in an average student submitting an application to Yalebut there is also no purpose either. Reach schools arent high probability risks but your time is too valuable to go through the motions of, say, applying to Middlebury with a C average.
Ideally, reach schools are where your grades and test scores are actually lower than those of the average admitted student. Admission isnt likely, but it isnt impossible either. You hold out hope that your killer essays, recommendation, special talents or background will win the hearts of an admission officer.
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What Determines Your Chances Of Getting Into College
If you’ve started down the college admission road, then you probably have a good sense of what colleges look for in applicants. Most colleges fall into one of two categories when it comes to admission decisions:
- Those that use assured admission
- Those that take a holistic approach
Read on to learn about both.
Campus Community And Social Life
In addition to nailing down a general location, its important to consider the type of campus vibe you want. Are you seeking an intense research university? What about a school with bleed-the-school-colors spirit? Do you want to attend an institution affiliated with a religion or with a strong commitment to athletics, Greek life, or the arts?
The campus atmosphere will likely be an important part of your happiness at schooland that can have a profound impact on your overall college experience. Happy students are more likely to graduate, so spend some time thinking about what makes you happy, and look for colleges with opportunities that match.
Questions to ask
- What is the social scene like on campus?
- How do students spend their free time on campus and off?
- What are the students generally like ?
- How many students live on campus full time?
- How many stay on campus during the weekends?
- How many are on campus during breaks?
- What kinds of fun things are available to students through the school and in the community?
- How friendly and welcoming do the students and staff seem?
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Take Another Look At Your Short List
Youve chosen and applied to a short list of your top colleges, and now that youve gotten accepted, youre going to want to revise that list.
Take a moment to remember why you chose these colleges in the first place.
A good place to start is the question of financial aid.
- Will this school put you in debt?
- Can you use FAFSA to help ease the cost of school?
- Is the quality of the education you will receive a good tradeoff for the financial burden?
Health And Wellness Facilities
Rumors of the famed freshman 15 are often true. Many students make bad decisions for their health and gain weight when confronted with unlimited high-calorie food in cafeterias. It is inevitable that a college campus becomes like a petri dish for colds, flus, and STDs as thousands of students from around the world come together in the confined spaces of classes and residence halls. Mental health issues also thrive in university atmospheres.
While you’ll find germs, fattening foods, and stress on nearly every campus, it is in your best interest to research a college’s health and wellness facilities and programs before attending. As a rule, the following should be true:
- Dining halls should offer healthy meal options daily.
- Non-athletes should have access to good exercise facilities.
- A health center should be available to students for basic services, preferably easily accessible from campus.
- A counseling center offering support for students struggling with mental health issues should also be available.
- Programs should be in place to educate students about responsible drinking and sexual health.
Students of healthy body and mind are much more likely to succeed in college than those who aren’t.
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Accept Rejection And Then Let It Go
Few things are harder than knowing you didnt make it into your dream school.
In fact, the only thing harder than dealing with rejection is getting stuck on it and letting other opportunities go by.
You have other schools you picked out that would be great for you, so keep moving forward on your quest to get a great college education.
If that still doesnt help you with the sting of missing out on a favored school, remember that rejection often leads you to better opportunities than the ones you thought were open to you.
Just ask J.K. Rowling or Elon Musk.
Which Factors Most Affect The Admission Decision
Many small, selective colleges pay greater attention to personal statements and essays, teacher and counselor recommendations, leadership experiences and the individual talents of applicants. They typically offer the chance for a face-to-face interview.
Large, public state university systems often use a mathematical formula based on a student’s grade point average and scores on the SAT or ACT. They tend to favor in-state applicants.
Regardless of the college’s evaluation system, your students should present a well-rounded picture of their skills, experience and personal traits. Applications should highlight their ability to succeed at each particular institution and what they can contribute to student life on campus.
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Tips For Choosing A College
Grace Chenhigh school seniorsConsider What You WantTalk to OthersNational Public RadioThink about Social NeedsCompare SizeHuffington PostLook at the StatsNational Center for Education StatisticsList Possible MajorsHuffington PostAsk Good QuestionsU.S. NewsSchedule an OvernightLook at the Price TagColumbus DispatchCompare Financial Aid Packageshigh schoolers
Question Your Top Picks
College is supposed to work for you.The whole purpose is to get a good job in a career you love. So once youve gotten accepted to the colleges on your short list, make a point of returning to the college and asking some very specific questions, including questions about the career center, how many companies are interested in applicants with the degree you hope to get, what kind of FAFSA aid is available, and more.
We suggest compiling a list of at least 10 questions to ask while visiting. Make sure they answer your questions. If they cant or wont answer your questions, then it may be in your best interest to move on to another school.
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What Colleges Should I Apply To Making A College List
With more than 5,000 colleges to choose from across the country, you might be asking yourself, “What colleges should I apply to?” How do you narrow thousands of schools down to just 10? The best way to streamline your college list is to divide it roughly equally between safety schools, match schools, and reach schools.
This guide will go over exactly what these terms mean and how to choose the best schools for you. Before taking you through the process step by step, though, let’s review the research process as a whole.
Internships And Research Opportunities
Nothing helps more when applying for jobs out of college than having hands-on, practical experience on your resume. Look for schools that have vigorous programs for experiential learning. Great colleges will give you opportunities to assist professors with funded research, secure meaningful summer internships with companies that interest you, and take advantage of a strong alumni network when you are looking for work after graduation.
Internships and research experience are important whether you’re a mechanical engineer or an English major, so be sure to ask the admissions officers at your desired school about experiential learning opportunities.
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What Are Your Odds Of Acceptance
Before applying to any college, youll want to consider your odds of acceptance. Check out the colleges GPA or SAT/ACT score requirements and compare them with your own results.
To give you an idea, the average high school GPA of students accepted at Stanford University is 4.18 and the acceptance rate is just four percent. While theres nothing wrong with having an ambitious school on your list, unless you have an impeccable academic background, you may want to go ahead and cross this one off your list.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Penn State Hazleton has a high acceptance rate and a modest GPA requirement of 3.16. The college admits 94 percent of applicants, so those are some favorable odds! However, if your GPA is around 3.8, for example, you might not get the academic challenge youre after.
You can find acceptance rates and requirements on a colleges admissions page. To save a bit of time, try using a college acceptance calculator to determine your chances of getting accepted into any school in the country.
How Can You Find Data On Prospective Colleges 3 Resources
To estimate your chances of getting into a specific school, you should compare your grades and test scores to those of the average accepted student. So where can you find this information?
There are three main sources:
- College search engines
- PrepScholar’s database and admission calculator
Let’s start with the search engines.
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