Applying for colleges may be one of the most exciting and stressful experiences in one’s life. Competition is tough, and you may need to go the extra mile to stand out from the crowd.
While acceptance may be difficult, it’s certainly not impossible. Follow these tips to maximize your chances of getting into your dream school:
Get good grades and test scores
The simplest way to get accepted into the best universities is to work on your academic profile. Most colleges would look for a good high school GPA combined with a challenging curriculum. As much as possible, take as many challenging courses as you can in high school, including honors, Advanced Placement (AP) classes, and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. These courses can help you earn college credits and increase your chances of admission. Additionally, obtaining a 4 or 5 on your AP test will also reflect well on your application.
Apart from your grades, the results of your standardized tests will also be a determining factor. Prepare well by answering practice tests, reading test prep books, and hiring a tutor if you can. Take both the SAT and ACT and make sure to submit the higher score between the two.
Diversify your choices
When it comes to college admissions, anything can happen. No matter how much you prepare, the school could easily give your slot to another student for several reasons. That’s why it’s essential to have a strategy when applying to colleges.
Put together a list of “safety” and “reach” schools. Apply to safety schools first or those whose admissions requirements you already meet or exceed. Afterward, apply to reach colleges or those where you’re less likely to be accepted due to their competitive applicant pool.
By having backup schools, you can breathe easy knowing there’s a high chance of you getting into at least one good school even if it’s not your top choice.
If you’re set on entering a specific school and confident about your qualifications, go ahead and send an early application around November. Colleges are known to accept more students during their early decision rounds.
Write compelling college essays
Your essay is the perfect opportunity to sell yourself and talk about your life outside academics. Craft a unique, personal essay that aligns with the given prompt while still reflective of who you are. It might also be helpful to get feedback on your work from both your teachers and peers. Lastly, make sure your piece follows the required format and is free from any grammatical errors.
Ask for letters of recommendations
Letters of recommendation are vital because they disclose aspects of your character that grades can never convey. When asking for letters, choose people who know you well enough to describe your skills and achievements in a positive light.
Some people you might consider are teachers, school counselors, or previous employers whom you trust. Provide your references with a list of accomplishments they can mention in the letter. Ask your potential references at least a month before the deadline to give them enough time to write and send the letter.
No matter how stressful college admissions can be, it’s essential to stay positive throughout the process. Trust that your consistent effort and hard work will pay off in the end. Avoid panicking, and simply breathe, stay calm, and believe in yourself.