How To Get Accepted At The Top Colleges

It is getting increasingly harder to get into a four year university these days. Many schools are going through an enrollment freeze due to the current economic status that the country is in. Today's technology allows information to be sent and received at lightning pace. This has helped to increase the applicant pool. In our current society, more jobs require some type of post secondary education or training.

With more college applicants and less seats to fill, where does that leave the aspiring student? How can you get a competitive edge against the next applicant? Here are a few things that you can do throughout your high school career to help you get accepted to the college of your choosing.

1. Take as many Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses as possible. You receive an extra weighted point by taking either courses. Earning an A in a regular course is worth 4 points towards your GPA. An A in an Honors Course is worth 5 points. Taking many weighted courses will allow you to achieve a GPA higher than 4.0. If you are pondering the choice between AP (college level) or Honors courses, choose AP if you are capable. Universities will get a chance to gauge your college readiness based on your performance in these classes.

2. Fill your schedule with academic electives. Limit the non-college prep courses in your schedule. Fluff courses (ie. PhysEd ) and GPA boosters do not help your Core GPA. Core courses are comprised of English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Foreign Language. Student #1 may have a GPA of 3.33. However their core GPA may only be a 2.80. A slight difference such as this may be difference between acceptance and rejection into a college.

3. Get A’s and B’s in all your classes. You may have potential. You may have high SAT/ACT scores. However admissions officers look at your GPA very closely. This can tell a lot about a person's motivation (willingness to put the time and effort into their work). Schools want the exceptional student, not the average one (a "C" is an average grade = 2.0).

4. Perform well on standardized tests. Do not go "cold turkey" if you are taking the test for the first time. The individual sections are timed. Practicing to pace yourself may prevent you from struggling to finish a section during the allotted time.Familiarize yourself with the types of questions that will be asked (ie. analogies, sentence completion). Learn strategies on how to attack and answer problems (ie. educated guesses). It has been proven that students who study and prepare themselves for the SAT/ACT increase their scores after multiple attempts. To sign up for the SAT visit www.collegeboard.org and www.actstudent.org for the ACT.

5. Participate in summer programs. Many colleges have 6 week programs of study which will get you antiquated with the college atmosphere. Plus you will get a chance to work with college faculty.

6. Be active at your high school. Admissions offices are looking for well rounded people, not just book-worms. Play sports, join clubs, play instruments, be a part of the school's drama program,etc.Extra-curricular activities count. If you have the same stellar academic transcript as the next student but he/she was a 4 year letterman/captain of their sport’s team and was a part of student government, who they will pick?

7. Volunteer for a cause worthy of your time. Don’t just pick random places in order to give proof of your service. Why are you picking the place where you will serve. Did you have a friend or relative who has been stricken with cancer/diabetes? Do you believe in the importance of teaching water safety for children? Are you a compassionate environmentalist?

In conclusion, I've gained this experience while working as a school counselor at the high school level. Follow these tips and I guarantee you will have a competitive edge in the college admissions process.

Poll and Feedback

What do you think colleges feel is the most important in evaluating a student?

  • GPA
  • SAT/ACT Scores
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Coursework
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