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Top Ways to Ensure Getting into any College

Updated on December 28, 2010

So you're thinking about going to college?

Depending on what universities you're looking at, this could very well be a difficult task. Trust me, I learned it the hard way. After recently researching universities and admissions, I realized my ignorance on how difficult it really is to get accepted to some major schools. Applying to college can be one of the most unsettling and nerve-wracking assignments, but I've compiled a list of things you can do to ease your mind a bit, as well as boost your chances of getting in. Remember, these tips are coming from a girl who wishes she would've known this her first day of freshman year.

1) Start early.

If you want to give yourself the best chances, you need to start the moment you enroll in high school. You have to give the universities the assurance that your hard-working qualities run in your blood, and that you've always been like that. Duration of an extracurricular is impressive; being on the tennis team for four years is a lot more impressive than being on the basketball team for one year and the cheerleading team for two years. If universities can sense your long-term dedication, then expect some brownie points.

2) Start some volunteer work.

I didn't get around to volunteering until I was in twelfth grade. Big mistake. If you've been volunteering regularly at hospital since you were a freshman, you probably have about 150-200 hours and a boat load of experiences to share. To colleges, this is huge. If you really want to go above and beyond, start your own volunteer organization. This could be a group that raises money for a local pet shelter, or a club that creates care baskets for needy families. This will demonstrate a unique kind of leadership-- not only will you show that you have the responsibility of creating and managing a club, but you're doing it for a great cause.

3) Choose the right type of classes to take.

After experiencing the ignorance of some of my high school guidance counselors, I've realized how easy it is to be given a mediocre class schedule and not even realize it. You most definitely don't need to overwhelm yourself with seven AP classes to show a rigorous schedule, however, there are a few simple tricks to boost your weighted GPA and show you've taken some difficult classes. First, take a look at some of the required classes you need to take to graduate. If one of them is a physical education class, or maybe a semester class of economics, take it online! These classes may inhibit you from getting a higher GPA because they won't give you a quality point (an addition of a point to your GPA calculation for an Honors or AP class). This would also enable you to add a class to your schedule that may be more well worth your time. Second, if you're not in a program such as IB, make sure you're taking the right amount of AP classes. For your freshman and sophomore year, if possible, take 1-2 AP classes. For your junior year, it'd be a good idea to take 3-4, and for your senior year, you should be taking around 4-5. Take electives that will give you a quality point, and take honors classes as well. Work really hard to make the A's in these classes, it will most definitely pay off. Remember, colleges are looking for students who have shown that they excel academically. After viewing the grades, they then consider extracurriculars.

4) Start prepping for college admissions tests early.

I made a HUGE mistake my junior year and only took the SAT, without doing any preparation, of course. I finally took the ACT when it was my last chance to, and realized I probably could have gotten a better score in comparison to my SAT score if I would've had more time to prepare. I wish I would've started earlier; I know my score would've been much higher. Buy a book, and do practice problems and tests in your spare time. SAT courses are VERY helpful and will almost always raise your score. Learn vocab slowly but surely -- don't try to cram it in three days before the test, you won't remember anything. And lastly, take the SAT and ACT early on to see the scores you get, and compare your performance between the two tests to direct you to which one to focus studying on more. Also, it's a good idea to study for the PSAT before you take it -- National Merit looks great on an application, plus it is very helpful when looking for scholarship money.

5) Attend classes at universities for high school students over the summer.

This will show dedication to academics, as well as show that you have a readiness for college curriculum. Admissions will also really like if you've taken summer classes at the college you're applying to.

6) Find something you're good at and stick with it.

Get involved in a school activity, such as a sport or drama, and work hard to shine in it. Keep with it all four years of high school, and show improvement as well as dedication. Even expand your talent to outside of school. For example, if you're in your school's choir and you love to sing, attend a few open mic nights or your local town's idol competition to see if you can win an award of some type. Not only are you getting good experience, but you're practicing in an art that may catch a university's eye.

7) Get a job.

Universities LOVE when applicants have the maturity and responsibility to manage a job and school work at the same time. They know that many students will need to work in college to pay tuition fees, so this lets them know that they're used to working and their academics won't suffer because of their employment. Even if you only have a job during the summer, it shows you have good experience and you're disciplined.

8) Start a club at your school.

This was something I did during my senior year, and although it was quite a bit of work, it was a lot of fun. Colleges like when they see that a student is involved in many different clubs and groups in school, but they're much more attracted to the applicant that created they're very own. Don't just create a group and neglect to do anything with it for the year; plan events and field trips, and discuss your doings in your application.

9) Visit your potential university or college.

Show them you're actually interested by requesting information, signing up for a tour, and calling and e-mailing questions about the school. Visit often, and make it clear that you're not applying to this university on a whim. If you're sure this place is where you want to be, apply early decision, if available, which is a binding agreement that you will attend the university if admitted. Many students apply to the top twenty universities with barely knowing much about each school, so you should make it clear that you're not one of those kids and you've actually done your research. Plus, it will really help you out when you're trying to figure out where you see yourself heading.

10) Write your application. Perfectly.

Spend time on your essay, and make sure it's unique. Read it from the admissions' eyes: Is this the same topic they read from the last five applications? Does it draw their attention from the very first sentence? Talk about a unique experience or thought. Using comedy when possible is always a great idea. Entertain them with your essay, and make sure it tells a lot about you. Also, have an English teacher read it over to make sure the grammar and spelling are perfect. Pick teachers that could write about specific moments about you that show your strong points for your recommendations, and ask them early on so they have no excuse for writing a poor one. Be prepared and give yourself a lot of time to finish your application(s).

I hope these tips helped. These won't guarantee anything, of course, but they'll help your chances. Remember, the most important thing is standing out! Colleges want DIVERSITY, so highlight your unique qualities. Good luck college hunting, and most importantly, good luck getting in.

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    • profile image

      Snaggles 6 years ago

      Nice advice. Bookmarking this guide. :)

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Lot's of great advice!!!