Admissions 101: Get to College in 10 Easy Steps!

Female student applies to collegeBy: Susanna Cerasuolo, M.Ed.
 
Admissions 101…here we go!  You can get into college in just ten easy steps.  Whether you’re in high school or have taken a break from education, getting on the education train is a very do-able goal.
 
1. Get good grades (all 4 years)
Do your personal best in high school because your GPA is the number one factor in college admissions.  If you have taken a break from education, then schedule an appointment to talk with an admissions officer at your target college and ask what you need in terms of grades to be admitted.
 
2. Take some tests and try to do well (Junior year)
Most colleges require you to submit the SAT or ACT, so prep a bit and do your best.
 
3. Build a wise college list (Junior year)
Safety, Match, and Reach–don’t omit any category because nothing is a sure thing for anyone these days.  Be realistic and wise, and always choose colleges where you would be totally happy to go. Use CollegeMapper’s streamlined College Search to get started!
 
4. Have some activities to talk about (all 4 years)
All the colleges want to know what you have been up to, and while working on world peace is impressive, video games are not.  Sooo, get involved in your school or community.  Join a club or take up a hobby, and my perennial favorite–READ. 🙂

5. Volunteer somewhere (2 or more years)
Colleges want to admit nice people who care about others and who will be active on campus.  You demonstrate this through your Resume, which you can start working on as early as freshman year.
 
Compassionate volunteering is my personal favorite (volunteering in your sport doesn’t make you look like a person who pushes himself out of his comfort zone to help others…).
 
6. Visit the campus (Junior or Senior year)
Visiting the campus gives you the chance to see if you feel comfortable there and if you think it would be a good fit for you academically and socially.  This is a great step so that you can apply to the best colleges for you.
 
7. Work on recommendation letters (Junior year)
You will need two teachers to write letters for you, and Junior year teachers are the standard targets.  Pick teachers in core subjects: English or History or World Language, AND Math or Science.  You cannot ask a PE teacher or a coach because that person has not had you in a core subject to see what a determined and insightful student you are.  You want a person who can talk about how well you contribute to discussions.
 
8. Demonstrate your interest to your target college (Junior and Senior year)
Colleges are far more likely to make you an offer of admission when you are really excited to enroll.  To show them that you are sure they are the right place for you: visit, join the mailing list, attend the visit when the college comes to your high school, interview, research the college, and tell your top choice school it is clearly your top choice (be honest and only do this once to one school!).
 
9. Work hard on your essays (Senior year)
Spend a lot of time on these and get some feedback from your English teacher, or other really good writers.  Beware, and don’t let too many people edit your voice right out of them.  That said, these essays are your one chance to sell yourself to your college so start these months in advance and come back to them after breaks, to see how they sound. Kids who do these in the week (or night) before they are due NEVER have good results, so be smart and plan ahead.
 
10. Proofread your application carefully and submit well in advance (Senior year)
When something matters, we work hard on it, so look over your app carefully many times before actually submitting it.  Track your application pieces on CollegeMapper’s Application page. Have your parents look over it, too, to catch any errors.  And remember, if you need help paying for application fees, call the college and ask for a fee waiver.
 
Best of luck to all of you this app season!  Yay college!

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