College admission officers carefully assess your high school grades, courses, test scores, essays, activities, recommendations, and interviews (if required). Increase your chances of getting into the colleges of your choice by following these twelve steps:
1. Get the best possible grades you can during ALL four years of high school. Grades are extremely important.
2. Take academically rigorous classes ALL four years. You should carry as many challenging courses as you can handle—college prep, AP, honors, etc.
3. Practice taking the SAT or ACT. Become familiar with the types of material covered and test directions. Take the PSAT during your sophomore year. Take advantage of free online SAT or ACT materials, study guides, practice tests, tutors, and prep courses before or during your junior year.
4. Try taking both the SAT and ACT. Colleges will accept either test. You may do better on one test than the other. Take the tests more than once if you are not satisfied with your scores.
5. Take SAT Subject Tests and AP Tests. Competitive colleges require you to take some of these exams and they take note of exam results. The acceptance of AP scores and the amount of college units assigned to them varies at each institution.
6. Spend sufficient time developing your college essays. Think and reflect before you write. Write, edit, rewrite. Sell yourself by making yourself appear energetic, exciting, passionate, and intellectually curious. You need to make the real “you” stand out from the rest of the crowd. Get feedback on essays from others.
7. Become involved in your school and/or community during all four years and summer vacations. You need to document your involvement in extracurricular and co-curricular activities, sports, and/or volunteer activities. Move up to leadership positions. Develop a deep interest or talent in one or more areas. Some of these activities can directly connect to a future college major.
8. Ask teachers who know you well and your school counselor for recommendations. At least a month in advance of college deadlines for recommendations, jog their memories by providing them with a comprehensive “brag sheet”.
9. Adequately prepare for interviews, if required or offered by colleges. Re-read your essays and any information you have acquired on specific colleges. Be friendlyimagesYEE0ZLMG and articulate. Dress like a winner—not casually. After the interviews, send thank you e-mails expressing your continued interest in their institution.
10. Decrease your stress by starting your search for colleges early—not later than the start of your junior year. This gives you adequate time to work on researching colleges, completing applications, writing essays, and taking necessary exams.
11. Get organized and stay focused. Make a folder for each college that interests you and put relevant information inside it. Keep focused on your ultimate goal: getting i nto the colleges of your choice.
12. Get on-going assistance from your counselors and teachers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of them no matter how simple they may seem.