How To Get In To College
Welcome, High School students and parents, to our blowout article on getting yourself into a great college or university.
I know all about this journey, since I was once a young high school lad, eyes wide with the possibilities of top colleges.
When I applied to colleges, I got a lot of great advice from my counselors, teachers and parents. It is now my personal goal to share some of what worked for me.
And, if you are curious, this advice did work! After 4 years of hard work and lots of fun in high school, I was accepted into my first-choice school: Pomona College in Claremont, CA - not the most famous school on the planet, but known for being among the top-10 most selective colleges in the US, and considered by many “in the know” to be academically competitive with Stanford and the Ivy Leagues.
This advice is here to help you achieve your college dreams with a minimum of pain and suffering. There’s a lot to go over, so make sure you print this out and tape it somewhere you will see often - to help remind you of the importance of the college application process.
By the way, a lot of this advice goes double for winning college scholarships, so I’ve pointed out some of the parallels throughout this guide.
Start College Apps right away and don’t slow down.
Here’s the first tip, and to most students and parents it is probably obvious: Selecting your favorite schools, finishing your college apps and getting into college takes a lot of work, so start early.
Do not stress too much about how much there is to do - instead, whenever you have some free time and energy, just work on something from the following list.
One of the biggest cures for college-app anxiety is just to do stuff that you need to do - so keep working on your grades, resume, extracurriculars, and your college hunt.
Start as soon as possible - it is never too early to be thinking ahead to higher education. You will be able to make better college decisions with lower stress the earlier you start making progress on getting in. Use the list of ideas in this article to focus your pre-college efforts!
Then, when you have extra time, you can use it to apply for (and win) college scholarships and develop alternatives and backup plans to avoid being burdened with student debt after college.
Talk to your college guidance counselor.
Ground-zero for the college admissions process is your high school guidance counselor - whoever has been appointed to help the students at your school go from high school to college.
This counselor will (hopefully) have tons of tips and tricks that will help you get into college. He or she can provide advice on picking a college, maximizing your odds of acceptance, and paying for college once you are accepted. Your counselor might help choose a major, or help you decide what the next steps of your life will be.
In the best cases, a great guidance counselor is an A-Z encyclopedia of wisdom and knowledge, strengthening your college apps and bringing new, deep insight to your college hunt.
Now, the unfortunate truth is that not every college counselor knows what they are talking about, and not every college counselor has the time to truly help each student to the best of their abilities.
That is where an independent private college guidance counselor can come in and help supplement the efforts of your local high school guidance counselor, who (truth be told) is probably going to be very over-worked right at the time you need them the most.
High School Courses Directly Affect College Chances.
Make no mistake, one of the very first things that college admissions officers will look at when considering your application is your High School course load.
By this I mean: can they tell that you took the easiest Math classes each year, and maximized your number of free periods every semester? I hate to break it to you, but top colleges do not want students who deliberately avoid the difficult parts of school.
College is tougher than high school, so if you didn’t challenge yourself in high school, most colleges will wonder why they would want to admit you to their challenging academic programs! Makes sense, right?
Advanced Placement (AP) classes are a time-honored way for a high schooler to prove that he or she is a committed student who loves to push their learning skills to the max.
Likewise, taking multiple maths and sciences, or any other challenging elective courses, is basically mandatory if you want the top colleges to accept you.
Don’t think taking super-hard classes is a great idea? Well, it’s true that you need to keep your grades up, so there’s no point in taking classes that ruin your GPA.
However, you might be surprised - oftentimes, a little bit of a challenge is just what we need to engage ourselves more. Furthermore, the hardest classes often have the best teachers. Why? Well, the best high school teachers typically love their subjects and love to challenge students to excel. That means tougher classes, but it also means more fun and rewarding classes.
Maybe you would do better in a challenging AP course with a great teacher, rather than coasting through a snooze-fest of stuff you already know! And the major upside is, of course, colleges will be much more interested in accepting you.
High School GPA and Class Rank Matter Most.
Alright, now we are talking about the single most important factor in most college applications as well as many scholarships: your high school GPA and class rank.
When it comes to predicting a student’s performance in college, there is no better indicator than that same student’s performance in high school. It really makes perfect sense, if you think about it - so do not hold it against the college admissions if you are not proud of your GPA!
It’s never too late to bring your GPA and class rank up. Most colleges love to see increasing GPA and class rank through your 4 years of high school - because it proves that you have become a more mature and dedicated student every year.
The opposite effect? That is when you had great grades in freshman and sophomore year, but something happened and you started slacking - leading to lower, down-trending grades in Junior and Senior year. This is a big mistake that crushes a lot of top-college hopes.
Get more intense about your education each year. Do not become a slacker. Your grades have to stand out above your peers. Make Junior and Senior years of high school your best grades and more colleges will be clamoring to let you in.
SAT and ACT Test Prep Pays Itself Back.
Is it surprising that a team of SAT and ACT tutors are bringing up the SAT, PSAT, and ACT tests as a critical part of getting into college? Not really!
SAT and/or ACT test scores are typically considered about 25% of your college apps. (With high school courses and GPA being approximately 50%, and “everything else” at about another 25% importance).
Most students will only take the SAT/ACT once or twice (we recommend three official tests: two in Junior year, and one in Senior year). That means these mammoth, 5-hour standardized tests play an incredibly important role in your college success chances.
It also means that, hour-for-hour, there is simply no better way to improve your college odds than buckling down and working on SAT and ACT test prep and practice testing.
No other college-readiness activity will return as much potential reward as crushing the SAT and ACT tests. It might sound like a lot, but if you put 40 to 100 hours of studying into these standardized tests, your score should skyrocket.
Consider that you probably spend about 6,000 hours on your 4-year high school GPA and transcript, and probably another 1,500 hours on your extracurricular activities and volunteering, it makes a lot of sense to invest just 40 to 100 hours of test prep for the SAT or ACT.
We highly recommend that you contact us directly for more advice on SAT and ACT test prep in order to get into college. We can help improve your college chances no matter where you are in the process.
- Contact Us For SAT and ACT Test Prep!
- When to Start SAT Prep
- Prepping the SAT at Home: The Complete Guide
Be authentic and true to yourself, or the efforts are wasted.
We are about to get into one of the most fun and interesting parts of getting into college: your extracurricular resume (in other words, everything about you that’s not an SAT score, a GPA, or a class rank).
This includes everything from athletics to leadership positions; violin recitals to pottery-making; being a skateboard junkie or a dirt-bike racer; winning a state spelling bee or designing a champion robot.
Honestly, I’m getting goosebumps (the good kind) just thinking about this part of your college application! It is definitely the best part!
Here is where you define your passions - what excites you - what you are dedicated to – what you are great at. What will you bring to college campus besides your big brain and top-10% class rank? Everyone at a good college is smart, so let’s think about what else we can bring to the table besides more A+ grades.
For the following list of ideas, make sure you are doing what YOU value - not what you think the colleges will value – otherwise it’s a horrible waste. The admissions officers will most likely see right through your ploys, but worse yet, even if you succeed, you will have only gone further away from who you are truly meant to be.
Stay genuine and authentic - pursue the activities, sports, and goals outside of school that appeal to you - the sky is the limit, and the more fun you have, the more likely it will help you get into college!
High School Athletics Mean A Lot.
Even if you are not planning to play collegiate-level sports, there is no doubt that high school athletic participation is an important component of most college applications.
Seems weird, right? Why would sports matter so much if you are applying to Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon, or Economics at Harvard?
Well, sports give high school students the chance to work hard as a team, to compete, to win with pride and lose with humility. Sports build character. It’s a cliché, but it’s so dang true. And the best colleges do not just want smarts, they also want students with true grit.
Also, physical health is just plain important! Healthy students generally attend more classes, turn in more assignments, and accomplish more after graduating.
Sports are a slice of life and of teamwork, and how you deal with the ups and downs, the trials and tribulations, of participating in high school athletics, is something that college admissions officers use to evaluate your overall personality and application.
Mega bonus points: win an award for leadership, MVP, most-improved player, or whatever else is available. Obviously we can’t all win an award for sports, but if you do, make sure to feature it prominently on your college application. I guarantee that the dedication and sacrifice of being an honored athlete will not be lost on the college admissions committee.
Not much of an athlete? I’d encourage you to still try to challenge yourself and join the team. Don’t take things too seriously if you aren’t a starter on the varsity team. Just get out there and try your best, support your team and have some fun. It will all come back around when it comes time to get into college.
High School Fine Arts are Great, Too.
On the flip side of High School Athletics, we have High School Fine Arts.
Music, painting, dance, theater, creative writing, and sculpture are time-honored ways of demonstrating your unique brilliance and skill to the college admissions department.
I have a personal soft spot for this section, since I have played piano all my life, and love to play music with all my heart. (In fact, at Pomona I earned a B.A. in Music and Piano Performance).
Go for positions of leadership, awards, challenges, and competition if possible - just like in sports. The cerebral, mental competition of Fine Arts isn’t quite the same as the physical, sweaty competition of athletics - but both the arts and athletics build character and personality, as well as the ability to face and overcome challenges.
Displaying your skills in the Fine Art(s) of your choice will always be a guaranteed route to a stronger college application and better odds of getting into a great college.
Volunteering and Community Service Add Up.
Community Service is a classic way to strengthen your odds of getting into college at the same time as you help other people - and it feels great.
Community service projects can range from picking up highway trash to teaching disadvantaged 1st graders to read. You can volunteer for hard physical labor, or you can just be there to deliver meals to the elderly from the comfort of your own car.
Community service can be done with friends, family, or on your own. You can design your own project, or you can help with someone else’s service idea. You can work indoors or outdoors. You can build, you can teach, you can help! For every high school student, I guarantee there is a community service project they would be thrilled about, if they just go out and take part.
Significant volunteering is one of the huge secrets of elite college applications. There is virtually no more flexible and rewarding way to improve your college application!
Free bonus: Community service hours can be re-used on scholarship applications, making them an incredibly valuable use of your time in high school.
Pro Tip: Colleges look for evidence of consistent and authentic volunteering. Their favorite thing to see is a long-term commitment to just a few volunteering opportunities, which demonstrates the authenticity behind your efforts.
Do not try to cram all your hours in at the end! Although it’s still much better than NOT doing any service, most colleges will understand that you were padding your application with volunteer hours that you did not truly care about.
It is much better and more successful to have an authentic, unforced record of volunteering for one or two causes that you care about. This will help you get into college, so make sure you are working on your volunteering and community service for every year of high school.
Leadership Positions Stand Out.
Want to really stand out on your college application? Make sure to earn your way into a leadership position of some kind during high school (or multiple leadership positions!)
Student government treasurer? Great! Student body president 3 years in a row? Fantastic.
Captain of the lacrosse team? Excellent. 1st Chair of the orchestra? YOU ROCK!!
Did you lead the charge on your school’s community service project this year? That’s leadership.
Did you organize and run an AP calculus study group with your friends? That’s leadership.
Did you start the school computer club or dance club or cookie-baking club? That’s leadership.
The great thing about leadership positions is the sheer diversity of options. Take your passion, pick a field. There will be one or more positions of leadership needed or available. Why not you?
Think about what it takes to become a leader, and then go for it. You will find the experience rewarding, challenging, educational, and satisfying. And, you will massively boost your chances of getting into your favorite college or university.
Competitions and Awards Show Your Skills.
Competitions and awards are just like leadership positions, minus the teamwork!
Instead of leading your team, it’s now a bit more about dominating your competition and coming out on top.
Does the idea of dominating your opponents make you feel weird? Maybe you’re not the most competitive type of person - and that’s totally OK! I hope this article gives you tons of ideas that will boost your college apps.
But, for the natural-born competitors among us, there is nothing so satisfying as crushing your rival through skill and talent. And to tell the truth, if you do it right, a few big wins look great on a college application.
Every field has its competitions: from chemistry to football, ballet to archery. There’s something elemental about competing - we humans just can’t get enough of it, and everyone loves a winner.
Pick your battles - compete from your personal strengths. Do not get frustrated if you don’t win. Appreciate the effort more than the result - enjoy the process more than the outcome.
Ironically, getting into a state of “flow” during competition often requires forgetting that you are there to win. The desire to win at all cost causes you to “choke” and get emotional. The desire to compete will lead to focusing on the process. Forget about the outcome of the competition - focus on your flow, on your fundamentals, on your performance - that’s how champions are made.
Always remember to maintain your integrity and honor - don’t win by cheating, don’t trash-talk your opponents, and don’t think that winning is everything. But, for the competitive, successful student, a few big wins here and there can open the doors to top colleges.
Get a Job!
Perhaps “get a job!” will not be the most popular part of this complete guide for how to get into college.
Students already feel overworked with classes and activities - and not everyone can handle part-time employment on top of that.
However, for those high school students who can manage to hold down a job while getting good grades, the benefits are numerous. You get a new source of personal recommendations, side income that can be used for college expenses or “fun money,” and you get real-life work experience.
What’s more, it just looks good to have a job in high school. While most of your peers want to lounge around watching TV or hitting the mall, you are proving that you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. You know the importance of hard work and you are not afraid of it.
Be strategic - the last thing you want to do is lose focus on your grades because your boss is making you work overtime. Let your high school jobs supplement your application, if that’s right for you - otherwise, you have plenty of other options.
Pro Tip: Consider working a summer-only job to avoid impacting your school-year performance. Camp counselor, seasonal restaurant or grocery work, life-guarding, or coaching a younger sports team are all time-honored summer jobs that can also help you put aside a chunk of change for college.
Teacher Recommendations and References
When it comes time to send in your final college applications, many schools will require you to submit personal references and teacher recommendations. The same goes for many scholarships so you literally cannot afford to neglect building a positive relationship with at least a few teachers and mentors.
You should be planning ahead for this moment from day one of high school. Identify the teachers that you have a special bond with, and cultivate your relationship with them. Let them know early on that it would mean a lot to you to have their stamp of approval.
Teachers love to mentor, and writing a great reference for a beloved student is typically one of the high points of the year. It is your job as the student to become beloved by your favorite teachers! So make sure to personally touch base and let them know how much you have learned from them.
When you ask for recommendations, make sure to leave a huge amount of extra time for teachers to finish. There is no one busier than a popular high school teacher, and you don’t want them to be frustrated with you for being inconsiderate of their time – especially when they are sitting down to write your college references.
(In other words, don’t do what I did, and ask the most popular teacher at school for a written reference with less than 24 hours until the application deadline!)
Attend College Rep Visits and College Fairs.
If you are going to hold up your end of the bargain and work super-hard to prepare an outstanding college application, then you should probably know exactly what your college options are.
College Representatives will probably visit your high school campus - recruiting and building interest for their colleges while also informing you about their schools. Oftentimes, these meetings take place during lunch, so you don’t have to sacrifice any of your precious time - just eat and listen to the presentation!
College Fairs are basically just a huge group of college reps all in one place, at one time, for your convenience. Wander the booths and collect informational brochures! The reps may be able to answer some of your deepest questions, and you might even get to meet some current students from the college.
One warning: at college fairs and college rep visits, you usually only hear the “good” side. This is as much an exercise in marketing as information - always keep your head on your shoulders and realize this is basically an advertisement for their college.
The advertising goes both ways! You are trying to give the best impression of yourself - there’s a decent chance that the college rep will be taking names of students who stand out.
In the end, there are much better ways of learning about a school than attending a college fair or listening to a college rep speak – but you might also discover a new favorite school that you never heard of before. It is important to get out there and gather all the information you can - just always remember to consider the source of that info, and what their personal motivations might be.
Stay organized with college lists, apps and deadlines
OK! Now, before you start making a giant list of all the colleges that interest you, think about creating an organized spreadsheet, folder, or document to organize all your research.
Your list of colleges, your personal 1-5 ranking of each school, the cost of attendance, pros and cons, application deadlines - all of that stuff can go into your big college-list spreadsheet.
This master list will help your family stay organized and make sure everything gets turned in on time! Plus, the time spent on your research and organization is guaranteed to help you get more clear on the details your favorite schools.
(By the way, I suggest you follow the same process in your hunt for college scholarships and alternative financial aid - a topic we discuss in our “Winning College Scholarships for High Schoolers” video course)
Make the right list of colleges.
One of the most important steps of getting into college is deciding where you might want to go!
The best way is to start with some careful thought about what you want in a college. Think about environment, school size, majors, cost of attendance, and distance from home. What facilities do you require to be happy? What are your deal-breakers that make a certain college a “no-go” for you?
Once you have some idea what you are looking for, then, make a “Long List” of colleges - let your imagination go free. Don’t think “I’d never get in here” - just write a big list of all the schools that interest you and meet your needs.
From there, it will be easier to set more specific criteria and trim down into a “short list” of about 5 to 10 colleges that you will apply to. Make sure you have a good mix of “Safety” and “Reach” schools. In other words, there should be an elements of both security and risk in the colleges you eventually apply to.
- Where Should You Apply to College?
- How to make a Long-List of Colleges
- What to Look for in a College: Choosing the Right Fit
- Where Should I Go? Happiest Colleges in the US
- Sign up for 1-on-1 College Counseling Services!
- Contact Us for more help!
Consider What You Want to Study (Your Major)
Here is a surprising truth about choosing a college: even at the same college, you can have a very different experience depending on what your major is!
For example, picture studying English Literature at a school known for its Bio-Medical Engineering program. You would probably have a significantly different experience than studying the same English Lit degree at a great Liberal Arts college.
Although most colleges offer students most majors, that does not mean that all study programs are created equal. It is only natural that each college has strengths and weaknesses among its various departments. So you want to study at a great college with strong departments in your fields of study to maximize your investment.
Another issue is the size of the department within the college. You have to realize that you will eventually be spending about 80% of your time within your department, not within your college. This is a natural consequence of specializing in a field of study (your Major).
Furthermore, if a “Morehaven College” is known for, say, its Chemistry program, that also means that upon graduation, a Chemistry major from Morehaven would most likely receive more job offers and have a stronger alumni network for Chemistry-related fields. Basically, reputation matters - not just for colleges, but also for the majors within the colleges.
I mean, when you hear someone graduated from “Harvard Business School,” you know you can expect them to be smart and capable - because HBS is famous for delivering elite Business educations.
Facebook and Google recruit tremendous numbers of students from MIT and Carnegie Mellon Computer Science divisions - because those specific school departments are legendary for producing incredible programmers.
So, once you have a “long list” of colleges, I highly recommend doing additional research on the specific majors that you are interested in, and trimming your college list a little more based on what you find.
Go out of your way to express personal interest in each college
Colleges, especially smaller schools, love it when you express personal interest during the application process. This also gives you a chance to learn more about the culture of the school first-hand by talking to representatives of the college.
So go ahead - call your top 10 colleges personally and let them know of your interest! Give them your name, ask some smart questions, and see if there is anything you can do to increase your chances of acceptance.
There is no need to overdo this; you do not want to sound desperate, or take too much of their time. The point is just to get on the radar, let them know your name, and learn more about the school. This can also be a good time to learn about financial aid options.
If you want to get in to college badly enough, I highly recommend calling and letting your top schools know how much you like them. It can only help!
Complete Your College Apps and Essays.
When it comes time to fill out your college apps and essays, the most important component is time.
There is absolutely no point in rushing through a college application or essay - I guarantee that you will not get accepted to top schools if you have rushed or procrastinated on the process.
Expect each app to take a minimum of 4-5 hours; honestly, you should probably budget 10 hours or more. Use this time to craft and revise your application, maybe even printing off multiple copies of the application and using the first two as “draft” versions.
Understand clearly: the college apps and essays will be a lot of work. You will have to choose whether to do a mediocre job or an incredible job - and doing a mediocre job will feel easier and go more quickly. You have to resist the urge to shirk your duties. Give 110% to each and every college application you send in, or you are just wasting your time and money.
Starting your apps and essays months and months ahead of time is the best solution - that way, if you feel burnt-out, you can take a time-out to get some additional perspective.
Don’t forget: smart students also leave extra time to find and apply for a variety of scholarships and alternative financial aid options to minimize the debt they carry after 4 years (or more) of higher education.
Finally, do not forget to get some outside editing perspective on your applications. Your parents and college counselors are the first stop, but if it is possible for your family to hire a professional editor, it can be well-worth the cost.
- 13 Terrible College Application Essay Mistakes
- Revising the College Application Essay
- Sign Up for our 1-on-1 College Counseling, Apps and Essay Help!
Go the extra mile: supplemental questions and materials
There are two types of students who are excited to see “supplemental” or “optional” essays and short answer questions on college applications:
Those who say “YES! I don’t have to put in as much effort as I thought! I can skip stuff!”
and… those who say “COOL! I can go above-and-beyond my competition, because they will be too lazy to complete the optional sections!”
Tell me, which of the two students do you think gets more college acceptances? 🙂
Don’t burn out early
Now, the flip side of going all “above and beyond” on your application: you can run out of energy and focus too early, holding the final 10% or 20% of your applications to a lower standard because, honestly, you are sick of filling out college applications!
Look - I totally understand that feeling (and it might be a good time to get some college coaching and outside perspective). I had the same feeling myself of burnout and overwhelm when I was in high school!
The best thing to do is take care of yourself and prevent burnout entirely. Even during the frenzy of college applications, make sure to eat right, sleep right, and give yourself some time to relax.
But, if you DO get burned out, you should do whatever you can to take a “vacation” or whatever you can do to treat yourself to some relaxation. Whatever makes you happy, remember to reward yourself each time you make significant progress with your college applications.
This is a long-term project; the culmination of years of study and hard work. So, treat it like a marathon, and not a sprint. If you want to get into college, you will need to pace yourself and stay steady and consistent throughout the process - at least as much as possible.
Check over your social media profiles
These days, just about everybody seems to be using social media. From creating your profile, to sharing your pictures and statuses, to liking your friends posts or sharing content from artists and musicians, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and even Google+ and LinkedIn provide us the opportunity to express ourselves in new and unique ways.
The problem is, sometimes, we do not use the best judgement when we “share” or “like” a post. And sometimes, our poor judgement can be seen by people like teachers or college admissions officers.
Before you apply to your favorite colleges, it is very worth it to “Google” yourself and research carefully what a stranger would learn about you by looking you up on the internet.
Carefully set your Facebook privacy settings, and make sure you aren’t using your profiles for anything dumb. Create a profile that you would be proud to have an admissions officer look over.
Visit college campuses in person
If you are about to commit a minimum of 4 years and, most likely, tens of thousands of dollars, to your college choice - you should probably check it out in person and make sure you really like it first!
The college-campus visits are a time-honored tradition, although it can be difficult to find the time and money to make it happen.
So, you need to pick very carefully what colleges you visit, and plan the schedule as far in advance as possible. When you get to campus, you will want to take advantage of every possible opportunity to interact with the students, faculty, and facilities.
Sit in on classes, take a student out for lunch, and take the campus tour. Sample the food, check out the dorms, visit the gym or the swimming pool, or the organic garden, or the music hall - whatever gets you excited, check it out in person on your college campus visit!
Think strategically - maybe visit 2 “reach schools”, 2 “safety schools,” and your 2 favorite colleges as well. Of course - everything will work out if this isn’t possible for you. Just do extra research with methods like alumni interviews with graduates living in your city, or extra internet research.
If you can’t make it to campus in person, go deep on your research and make sure to look for the good and the bad. Look for online forums or other sources of honest, unbiased opinion from students of the school.
College Application Interviews
College application interviews are, for many students, the most terrifying part of the entire application process.
I can understand why! First of all, most high schoolers have exactly zero experience in an interview situation, whereas the college officer has enormous experience with 1-on-1 interviews.
Furthermore, the balance of power seems to be squarely on the side of the colleges. It can lead to an emotional state more like an “interrogation” than an “interview”.
What’s worse, there’s often a feeling of “this is my only chance!” The thought of blowing the interview completely, ruining all your hard work, and crushing your application - well, whew, that would make anybody tense up!
But do not worry! Would you believe me if I told you the interview stress isn’t real - it’s all in your head?
Truthfully, the student has the power. You have the brains, the personality, the gifts, and the all-around coolness that every college campus craves. They need you, just as much as you need them!
Let your inexperience work for you. Be open, honest, candid, even charming, about your inexperience with interview situations. It’s ok to smile and tell them you feel a little nervous. Get some stress out at the beginning, then free yourself to enter the flow of the conversation.
Maybe that’s the biggest trick of all: treat the college interview as a conversation rather than a competition. You’ll ease up, relax, and maybe even find yourself laughing and enjoying yourself. Relaxation will bring your inner charisma to the forefront.
Pro tip: Stage some mock interviews with your family, friends, mentors, or college counselor before the real thing. Role-playing a college admissions interview can be a surprisingly fun and effective way to dispel “stage fright” during the real interview. Plus, you’ll be more prepared and polished, upping your chances of acceptance.
Be a good person with good goals
Hey, here’s the honest truth. The easiest way to beat the interview and application process is to be a good person, with good goals.
This means: having some idea of who you are, and why you are that way. Taking responsibility for your own past choices and your own future efforts. Holding with you the pride of past achievement and the excitement of future challenges. Knowing what your long-term life goals are and having some idea of the steps you will take to achieve them (even if it is not perfectly clear to you yet).
What if you do not have goals? Well, honestly, you better get some pretty darn quick! Else, why are you about to spend so much time, money, and energy on your higher education?
The subject of personal goal-setting and development is something very close to our hearts and in fact we offer a High School Life Coaching class, specifically designed to help high schoolers develop and clarify their personal life goals before going on to college. Click the link to learn more and maybe sign up for this wonderful and fun class!
The energy and positivity that come along with just being a good, kind, hardworking person with clear goals and a plan to achieve them is really all you need to get into the best colleges and universities in the world, as long as you have the grades to back it up.
Get Accepted and Make a Decision
Now that you’ve put together an incredible high school experience with great grades, leadership positions, challenging activities, community service, and great test scores, the colleges are going to be all over each other trying to claim you as their own!
You are now exactly the kind of student top colleges want to accept, so do not be surprised when you get into two, three, four, or even more colleges. Truth be told, they would all be lucky to have you!
When making your final decision, consider every possible angle, from financial aid to academic rigor and everything in between (the quality of the cafeterias; gym facilities; music rooms; whatever is most important to you).
You have done everything right in the college application process, and as a hard-working, dedicated, and self-motivated student, any college choice you make will be the right one. Trust your heart, as well as your brain.
Don’t forget scholarships, student loans, and other financial aid
While the topic of paying for college is an entire article (actually it’s a 5-hour video course on winning scholarships and paying for college for high schoolers) unto itself, it would be a mistake not to start thinking about where your funds will come from, as soon as possible.
Will you apply for merit scholarships? Federal grants? Borrow money from family?
Are you going to make use of the college work-study program? Or take out student loans?
Naturally, you will most likely pay for college using a mix of the above methods, and maybe others as well. Perhaps the most important things in paying for college are: Plan early, and continually look and apply for more scholarship and grant money!
Here are some additional resources:
- Our 5-Hour “Winning College Scholarships” Video Course
- 62 Colleges with the Best Need-Based Financial Aid
- 10 Tips To Get More Financial Aid at College
Finish strong in Senior Year.
“He lost his scholarship because he got senioritis and flunked calculus in spring term!”
“She got caught stealing a bracelet with her friends and Harvard cancelled her acceptance!”
Somes students think it’s just an urban legend. Others have a healthy fear surrounding the stories…
The truth is, you absolutely can LOSE what you’ve gained if you do not finish strong in senior year. In other words, if your grades slip, or if you make the wrong decisions, you can find your college acceptances yanked cruelly away.
Worst of all, if this happens late in Senior year, how will you ever adjust your plans? Most colleges will be long-since-finished with their acceptance periods, so you would probably have to take a whole year off, or apply to alternate colleges starting from scratch again.
So, you see, it is really best to just avoid the danger entirely, push through the “senioritis” feelings, and continue to be the amazing student and human being that got into college earlier that year.
Conclusion: To Get Into College, Start The Process Today!
So there it is! One of the most complete articles online about how to get into college.
Together we have been over an enormous amount of ideas that will help your organize your college search, boost your application, and make you stand out above all other applicants.
If you have enjoyed or learned from this article, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ with your friends so they can also get into great colleges!
Now it’s your turn! Start right away, and you will improve your odds AND lower your stress levels. You will also probably find more opportunities for scholarship money and making the right choice of college and major.
Additional Resources: “Winning College Scholarships for High Schoolers” Video Course
Best of luck, and thanks for reading!
Do you have any tips or questions about getting into college? Let us know in the comments section below and we will talk!