College admissions can seem overwhelming. There are so many factors to consider and it seems as if you are getting contradictory advice at times. Here are my top 5 suggestions for making the college admission process easier.
For purposes of college admission A’s are great, B’s are good, C’s are questionable, and D’s and F’s are red flags. Of course, students applying to highly selective colleges tend to have all A’s with only a couple B’s over the course of four years. But colleges aren’t just looking at your grades, they are looking at the courses you’ve taken. Your course selection choices show your interests, talents, and willingness to academically challenge yourself.
2. Become Passionately Involved
Pursue an interest, learn something new, do something you’ve always dreamed of, help others, and have fun. Colleges want students who are involved in things they love. Not all students are fascinated by or talented in the subjects offered in school. Extracurricular activities allow students to discover their interests and gifts. Some of the most successful people in life, did not have perfect grades in high school, but they did develop skills and talents outside the classroom which helped them excel in the workplace.
3. Rock the SAT
Spend the time to study and prepare for the test. Review reading, math, writing, and overall test strategies. Great scores now will save you time and worry senior year. Most of my students will take the SAT twice their junior year; many do better the second time because they know what to expect and have learned to manage their nerves. Students can always re-take the test October of their senior year, but this should be viewed as a last chance effort.
4. Know Your Schools
Research and visit colleges. If you know where you do (and don’t) want to apply, you will be ready for early admission and scholarship options. Don’t wait until junior year is over to begin this process. Last summer when I took a tour of SMU in Dallas, three of the students were beginning their senior year, the other 15 students were starting 9th, 10th, or 11th grade. Colleges want students to learn more and will be glad to see you attend college fairs or official information sessions and campus tours.
5. Put Your Summer To Work
Participate in a summer program at your top choice college, volunteer, do independent research, or work 40 hours a week. Colleges love students who make the most of their time. You will still have time for friends and lazy days by the pool. Remember when you apply to college, your application will be reviewed against that of the person who did something with their time, so don’t let this opportunity slip away. You can’t wait until the beginning of June to make plans, start thinking now and take action to secure your top choice position for the summer.
These five elements apply to entering freshman and rising seniors alike. If you master these, your college admissions options will improve and you will find the process less stressful.