Small things can have a big impact. Below are some areas that can help you get into college. Under each are some different ways to consider what can improve your game.
Your summer can help you gain admission – Summer activities are a source for college applications essays, show your personality, and give an impression of what you do beyond the classroom.
But, think about these things:
Attending a summer program at a college or university has little to no impact on your getting into that school, especially in an ivy league school.
• You can find “wow” summer programs to attend, like study abroad programs, that are free or are low cost. (Check out Peterson’s Summer Opportunity Directory.)
• “Rich kid” summer activities can actually make a negative impression.
• Months of work at a local business is valuable too; it shows maturity and steadiness.
Good manners can give a positive feel about you to others – Manners do count.
• Campus tour guides and admissions officers like to be appreciated, too, and it helps to stay in touch on a more personal level so write thank-you notes.
• Make sure to thank teachers, coaches, and guidance counselors for their written recommendations. You never know when they will be contacted by the admissions officers at a college to talk about you. Let’s hope they have glowing things to say beyond their formal recommendation.
• Actions like standing when someone enters a room, initiating a hand shake, saying please and thank you, and smiling at interviews, even while talking on the phone, and during campus visits all work for you.
A Video can supplement an application – Tufts is one of the first schools to encourage applicants to send a video about themselves. This may become a trend.
• Keep it minimal. One minute is good.
• Make sure it’s well-produced. A bad production not only looks and sounds terrible but takes all the attention away from you.
• Show your creativity and wit. It should inform and entertain.
• Use the video to demonstrate your talent and what type of person you are.
SAT/ACT scores still count…a lot – Do whatever you can to make sure those scores are high.
• Practice does make perfect. Take practice tests every day for at least a month before sitting for the test.
• Enroll in a test prep course. You will pick up pointers.
• Sit at the front of the test room. Research shows if you see fewer of your peers around you, it will reduce your stress and your sense of competition which can undermine your performance.
Colleges are looking for rigor – Be well-rounded is not the name of the game in today’s college application process. You have to prove you’re a serious student.
• The one course that students can take which impresses admission people the most is AP calculus. But, even regular calculus helps.
• College admission officers like to see you take both math and science courses throughout high school.
• College admissions are also looking to see if you are taking the more challenging courses in your school.
Write a résumé – The high school résumé is a big help in the whole admission process.
• Start early to remember all that you have accomplished in high school, including honors and awards. Make sure to ask everyone to help remind you of things you may forget. Ask parents, teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, and friends, as well as others you have contact with in your community.
• Give your résumé to those you ask a recommendation from. It will jog their memories, too.
• Use your résumé at the college interview as a conversation starter and to help you prepare for interview questions.
• Add your résumé to all your college applications.
Don’t forget about financial aid – It would be bad to be accepted to a college or university and then not be able to attend because you can’t afford it.
• Learn the differences between a loan and a grant, between merit aid and scholarships, and find out what work study entails.
• Go out and obtain the FAFSA form. Even though the form is not due until January, start looking it over and collecting information now.
• Start early combing through the gazillions of available scholarships; if you search, you will find some for yourself.
This is just an overview of things you may not have thought about that can make a difference in your college applications. To find out more about each of these areas, go to our Collegebasics website and search through all our categories. You will get useful information about everything to do with going to college, from college planning in high school to financial aid.