If you're ready to take the next step in pursuing your academic future, finding a college and getting accepted can seem like a momentous task. With the proper planning and preparation, you can ace your applications and feel confident about the admissions process. Use the following tips to help you get accepted to the college of your dreams.
Start Early and Finish Strong
Begin your college search as early as possible so that you can determine which schools that you want to apply to and keep records of when you will need to have your applications finished and turned into the admissions office. If you are in high school, you may want to start thinking about where you want to go to college in your sophomore or junior year so that you can learn more about their admissions requirements and incorporate those standards into your plan. If you are planning to go back to school as a stay at home parent or after you have already started your career, take as much time as you need to properly plan your transition back into college so that you can get accepted to the best school for you.
It may seem overwhelming at times to complete all of the necessary forms, essays, and protocols put in place by the college that you are interested in attending, so take plenty of time to prepare so that you can present them with the best application, essays, academic record, etc. and improve your chances of acceptance.
Choose Your High School Classes Wisely but Challenge Yourself
Maintaining a high GPA is essential for high school students that want to get into a great college, but many schools also evaluate your performance in high school based on the quality of the classes you take. While it is always important to maintain a high GPA, opt for a few challenging classes to show colleges that you are capable of excelling at more advanced work.
If you are going back to school after you have already started your career, call the colleges that you will be applying to and speak to an admissions counselor about what you will need to provide to get accepted.
Narrow Your Choices before Applying
Before you begin applying to colleges, compile a list of several colleges that could be a good fit for you. Prioritize the colleges in order of which you will be most likely to attend if accepted. Only spend your time applying to colleges that you would have a high likelihood of attending if accepted so that you can filter out any colleges that you will be unlikely to attend. This will save you a lot of time once you begin filling out all of your applications and writing essays.
For the colleges that are on the top of your list, plan a college tour and a meeting with an admissions advisor. Not only can this give you more insight into how college life will be, it can also help you during the admissions process to have a face to face meeting with one of the admissions advisors that will be evaluating applications.
Colleges Sometimes Overlook Slips – with an Explanation
If you had a slip up in your grades or in some other area of your application, that may not disqualify you from getting accepted to the school of your choice. Some colleges will make exceptions for students that have had a slip. Provide an explanation for any drop in your grades or test scores either in your application, essay, or in an attached letter submitted with your application.
Study Hard for the ACT and SAT
Your scores on the ACT and SAT are very important to admissions advisors as they assess your academic abilities. Spend ample time preparing for the ACT and SAT so that you can increase your scores and impress the admissions officers when they evaluate your application. Consider taking the following steps while preparing for the ACT or SAT:
- Purchase study materials specifically designed to help students understand the types of questions that will be asked on the test.
- CD/DVD Study Materials
- Test Workbooks with Sample Tests
- Find a qualified tutor to help you prepare for the SAT and ACT
- Take a preparation course to prepare for the exams
- Many schools offer an SAT and/or ACT preparation course for prospective college students.
Take advantage of these resources to increase your scores on the ACT and SAT. Remember that if you don't do as well on your first attempt as you would like, you can retake the exam later. Only your highest score on the test will be considered during the admissions process regardless of the number of times you take it.
Stay Organized when Filling out Applications and Writing Essays
Filling out applications can seem tedious if you are applying to a number of different schools. It is often helpful to compile a list of information asked for on each application so that you can easily access those answers when filling out your applications. Make a list of the following information to have on hand when you are filling out applications:
- Your current GPA
- Honors, accolades, or awards you have received
- Sports organizations you have been involved with
- Groups, teams, clubs, volunteer opportunities, or school organizations that you have been involved with
- Work experience
- Financial aid information
- SAT and ACT scores (These will need to be mailed directly from the testing facilities to the college campus, but it can be helpful to have them on hand anyway in case the application requests that you list your score.)
Each college will typically have different topics and guidelines for essay submission. When writing your college essay, remember to be creative with your answer. Have your English teacher or an editor look over your work to ensure that your grammar and spelling are flawless and that the content of your essay is suitable for the topic and the university that you will be applying. If you have a tutor to help prepare you for your SAT or ACT, you may be able to discuss your essay with them to develop your ideas, create an outline, and begin the writing process. Make sure to edit and proofread your own work before sending your essays.
Some students write a general essay that they use for several colleges. You can find out whether you will be able to do this by looking at the application for each college and marking down the topics before you get started. Some colleges allow students to select topics that they write on, while others will provide all topics for every essay.
Colleges are looking for people that will enrich their campus, and the best way to show them that you will do that is to just be you. Make sure that your application and your essays are an accurate reflection of yourself, and the college that is right for you will be able to see that you are a great fit for their institution.
Meet Your Deadlines
With all of this in mind, it is essential to submit your application on time before the deadline. Plan accordingly so that you have more than enough time to complete all of your applications and essays. It is also usually helpful to have someone else review your application and essays to check for any errors before you submit. Submit your application as early as possible so that you can ensure that the college receives it before the deadline.
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