Friday, August 1, 2014

It's So Competitive - How Do I Get Into College?

Are you getting ready to start the college application process and are you feeling totally overwhelmed? If so, here are a few tips to help you get started and don't worry.  Everyone else is feeling just like you!
         3.7 gpa

Make Sure You Have Good Grades - So this seems really obvious and you may be rolling your eyes at this first tip but there are many high school students who don't take this seriously.  If you don't have upwards of about a 3.6, chances are the more competitive schools will not even look at you so if that is what your goal is, you should really focus on your grades.  By the beginning of your senior year you should be able to breeze through your last year without effort if you are doing things right.  

Sample transcript from Kolbe

Have A Well Rounded High School Transcript And Resume - Getting really good grades isn't enough to land a spot in a good school.  You need to have a well rounded transcript and resume in order to attract the attention of the schools that run the programs you are interested in. Activity in leadership programs, community service, sports programs, religious youth groups, or service to political organizations are all great activities that will add to your academic resume.

Image result for harvard  Image result for new york university   Image result for george washington university
              Harvard           New York University     George Washington 

Make A List of Preferred Schools - Gone are the days when you could apply to just 1 college and get in. Higher education is so competitive right now for many reasons so you really need to be on your game when it comes to picking schools that not only have programs that meet your needs and wants but that also look favorably on your background and educational experience.  All schools are looking for well rounded students so researching and finding the ones that match your resume is important.  Don't skimp on this step because you don't want to waste your time on a school visit that could end up being costly.

First page of FAFSA form.  

Whether Financial Aid is Needed Or Not, Fill Out a FAFSA - The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an important form to fill out the year you begin applying to colleges.  The FAFSA is used to determine your families contribution which is done by conducting a "need analysis" based on your families financial information such as income, assets and other household information. All of this information will be required to fill out the form and it does take a while to fill out but it will be worth it in the end.  This form is also used by state agencies and schools to make decisions on grants and scholarships that are offered locally so make sure you fill this baby out!

Sample college recommendation letter.

Get Strong Recommendation Letters - When admissions committees are comparing your SAT/ACT scores and grades against other candidates for their enrollment spots, strong recommendation letters can put you over the top.  Most universities request one or more letters from coaches, teachers and other high school officials to provide background information on your application so make sure that you choose good references.  Be particular about who you choose to write your letters.  Be confident that they are very familiar with you and your abilities, that they are good writers and that they will be dependable to make sure that your letter arrives before the deadline date.  This is an important step in your application process so it is imperative that you are confident in your references.

New SAT Logo (vector).svg          ACT

Take Classes to Prepare for the SAT or ACT - Nobody likes taking these tests but they will be an important part of your application process especially if you have problems with standardized tests and it is important to do well no matter which test you take.  Once you have decided which test to take sign up to take a prep class. The SAT and ACT prep courses run from $300 - $1,000 which includes everything from the course, proctored tests, access to the website, on-line instruction and a money back guarantee, depending on the package you purchase.  If you think you are going to need a jump start on the test, you should look into taking one of these classes.  

Make Sure Your Essays Are The Best Example of Your Writing - Last but certainly not least is the essay that you will be required to write for most of your applications. There will be a different topic request for each school so be prepared to be creative and thoughtful in your writing.  This writing sample will give the universities you apply to a view of your writing ability as well as your view on a particular topic and how you express yourself.  Just like a cover letter for a job application, the essay you write for your college applications can make or break your submission.  TAKE YOUR TIME!

Well, these are my top tips to help you get your application noticed by the colleges you apply to.  The schools will be particular about all aspects of your application so make sure that you are giving the whole process your undivided attention.  Each school will have a different focus so it is important that you make sure each piece of your application is complete and the best representation of you.  You usually only get one shot at this so give it your all!

Enjoy the application process!

I am not an expert at college admissions - just a mother who has helped her 4 children get into private schools.  My advice and opinions are strictly my own.   

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