Be a Sport

While universities are often looking for kids who appear to be really good at something and show a lot of potential in one area, they are also looking for kids who have put together a well-rounded high school career.

Colleges like to see athletic involvement on an application because it shows that the student can juggle the time necessary to practice and play sports while at the same time maintaining what they need to do in the classroom.

Playing sports can also indicate that you are willing to put in the time to train and practice in order to improve a set of skills.

Some students will be offered athletic scholarships.

Will you be offered an athletic scholarship?

If you are like most student athletes – no, you won’t.

If you’re a top athlete in a sport that colleges regularly award scholarships in, then maybe you will get offered something.

Receiving a sports scholarship can be pretty terrific. But these scholarships might not come from the school you really want to attend and you’ll have to commit many hours to your sport while in college as well.

But if you love your sport, being able to play it while getting an almost free education can be a pretty sweet deal.

Join Some Good Organizations

College admissions guys aren’t so much interested in how many clubs or organizations you belong to, but they are interested instead in the quality of these groups and the level of your involvement with them.

You want to be able to show that you were a valued member of the organization.

You don’t want to look like you were just a follower who didn’t bring much to the party.

You can show your level of involvement to these organizations by being one of the group’s leaders or organizers, either through having a title or through the specific actions that you took.

Not all organizations are equal.

Some of the better ones include the National Honor Society, student council, yearbook, school newspaper, the debate team, and academic competitions and teams such as Mathletes.

Have a Great Summer

It’s a good idea to do something every summer that will strengthen your college application.

Each summer is a chance for you to do something interesting when you aren’t burdened by having to go to school five days a week.

There are a variety of activities you could get into. You could get a job, volunteer, or take a class in something you find interesting.

Working, volunteering and taking classes help to show that you’re not just a lazy party guy.

Jobs are good because you can earn some pocket money for college and have something to put on your next job application.

Volunteering can have unexpected results. You might meet someone who will eventually hire you or recommend you for a job or they may end up writing you a college recommendation.

You could also sign up to take part in either a foreign exchange program or some type of volunteering effort in another country.

Interning is also another great activity, but it can be difficult to find an internship when you’re still in high school. Most companies will be looking for college-aged interns.

It’s tempting to just blow your whole summer vacation, but you should put in some time and effort that will help you later with your college quest.

Honors and AP Classes

Not all high school classes are the same.

College admissions officers look for certain types of classes on their applications.

They like to see plenty of math, foreign language and science classes. They also like to see honors level classes and AP classes.

Enrolling in and successfully passing an AP class is the best way to show that you can take and pass a college-level course.

It kind of proves you are built for college.

And if you can pass the AP exam for that class, you can usually earn college credit for it too. Pretty nice.

Enrolling in honors level classes shows that you are willing to challenge yourself by taking hard courses in high school and not just taking the easy classes.

Those admissions people like to see that you took on difficult classes.

They can tell whether or not you coasted through high school.

Get a Great Recommendation

Universities receive a lot of student recommendation letters.

Your goal is to make yours stand out as much as possible.

While you can’t actually write your recommendation letter, you can make every effort to allow the writer of yours to write as strong a letter as possible.

The first step is to pick the best writer.

The best writer is someone who thinks you are pretty great and is happy to write a letter saying as much.

Some colleges think the best writers are also teachers in a core field such as English, math, history or science. Many students know this as well, so some of these teachers get asked by a lot of students to write these letters.

You may have to come up with more than one potential letter writer in case your top choice is too busy to write yours.

Make the letter writing process as easy as you can for your writer. Give them all the necessary paperwork and guidelines for your particular college.

Give them plenty of time to write your letter. You don’t want your writer to have to hurriedly write yours just days before the university deadline.

You can also give your writer a short summary of your school and personal history which may help them to write about you.

Teachers have lots of students and it can be hard for them to keep each student’s details straight, so include some facts about yourself in your summary to make it easier for your teacher to write about you. They will appreciate it.

Early Acceptance Tactic

Early acceptance is a tactic that some students should take advantage of.

It can work really well for students who are strongly interested in getting into one specific college.

If you’re willing to go along with early acceptance, your odds of getting accepted are greater than if you wait for the regular enrollment period.

Early acceptance means that a university will accept you, but that if they accept you, you are agreeing to actually enroll there. If they accept you, you can’t go enroll at some other university.

If this is your top school, then early acceptance can be a pretty great deal.

However, it also means that you will be enrolling there without knowing anything about their financial aid package and how much you will actually have to pay.

If your strategy is to apply to different schools and shop around based on tuition and final costs, then early acceptance might not be your best route.

Crush the Essay

The essay section of the college application is probably the most critical part of the entire application.

A perfectly thought-out and executed essay can put your application over the top of other applications with similar grades and test scores.

There are two components to the essay. There is the topic and there is the mechanics of the writing.

Coming up with the perfect topic is hard. You are trying to find a topic that is unusual and special to you.

You don’t want to write about something that numerous students have written about before. And you want to find a topic that is unique to your situation and is something that you can really write something strong about.

When you come up with your topic, you should take a moment and run it by your guidance counselor and see if he or she thinks that it is an okay topic.

Once you get the okay from your counselor, you need to start writing. When you’re done writing, you need to write it again.

Then you need to write it again.

You need to show it to people who know how to write, get their feedback and use it to continue to edit it.

When you’re done, you will hopefully have an essay that is on a great topic and mechanically perfect.

Your essay is really important, and it’s one of the few things at this point you can control.

Make it as good as you can.

Are You a Legacy

If you have a close relative, such as your Mom or Dad, grandparent, brother or sister, who has graduated from a specific university, then that university may consider you to be a strong candidate for admission to that school.

Many colleges give a family discount (not in dollars, but in admissions acceptance percentage) to applicants from the same family.

In almost all cases, you still have to be a solid candidate.

Your grades and test scores need to be respectable. But your legacy status could very well push you over the top.

In some instances, legacy candidates are 20% to 50% more likely to get an acceptance letter than a non-legacy would.

Okay, so this isn’t something you can really control.

Even though you can’t control it, it’s something to consider when you are making your college plans.

Lead Not Follow

College recruiters want to see applicants who have belonged to a nice variety of clubs and organizations both in school and outside of school.

But besides merely being members of organizations, recruiters really want to see applicants who have lead or have shown leadership characteristics while being involved with these groups.

So think about this for a moment.

You usually can’t just join a group and suddenly take on a leadership role. You generally have to belong to a group for a while before you can lead it.

So you need to start joining these groups while you are a freshman or sophomore so that you will be able to grow into a leadership position when you are a junior or senior.

If you can’t become the group president or vice-president, try to do something within the group that demonstrates leadership, creativity and organizational skills.

Recruiters are more interested in applicants who can show commitment and leadership to a few organizations rather than to applicants who are involved with many different activities and organizations, but can’t show a concentrated commitment to any one of them.

Start Something to Get Noticed

College admissions officers like to see the word “started” on the applications they are reviewing.

Most schools believe that if a student was involved in starting something, it shows initiative, creativity and leadership beyond being merely a member of a group.

While belonging to and participating in organizations is a characteristic that universities really want to see in their applications, leadership and entrepreneurship is valued even more.

And it doesn’t matter that much what it is you started. It could be a club at school or a small, one-person business.

What it is doesn’t matter as much as what you did with it.

Starting something is a terrific way to show you have some of the qualities that colleges really want to see.

So do it if you can.

Get High SAT Scores

Wanna get into a good college?

Get high SAT and ACT scores.

Besides your grades, the scores you get on the SAT and ACT can be the single biggest factor for getting into your desired college.

So it’s simple — just get high scores.

Maybe it’s not so simple.

The two biggest factors for determining what score you will get on these two exams are the size of your brain and how well you prepare for the exam.

Already got a big brain? Congratulations.

Got just a normal sized brain? Then get to work.

While it’s not the most fun thing to do, you simply have to prepare for these exams by reading some books and taking some practice exams.

Preparation really helps by letting you know what to expect as to the style of the test and to the topics of the questions you will have to answer.

You can take these tests several times and then submit just the highest score.

But even though you can repeat these tests if you get a low score, we don’t recommend you sit for one without putting in the preparation time necessary to get the best score you can get, even on your first try.

Just Get Good Grades

It’s obvious to everyone, but having a high GPA is important.

For the best chance of getting into a great school, having great grades all four years of school is pretty much a prerequisite.

But getting all A’s is hard. A lot of students can’t do it. Not all students can get an A in every class.

So the key to keeping a high GPA for most students is to limit the low grades.

One low grade can really pull your GPA down. And a low grade will stand out on your school transcripts too.

You want your grades to show that you can be above average in every class. You want to show you have no weaknesses.

If you’re having a class that you don’t like and aren’t doing well in, you’re going to have to figure out how to get a decent grade in it before it’s over.

You’ll have to suck it up and get it done.

Have Realistic Expectations

When you are deciding upon which universities to apply to, you need to have some realistic expectations.

We’re not all going to Harvard and Stanford.

While it’s a good idea to apply to one or two schools that might be considered a reach for you to get accepted into, you need to have a good contingency plan for what you will do if those selective colleges turn you down.

Most advisers recommend that you go ahead and apply to one to three “reach” schools, one or two safety schools that you are sure will accept you, and one to three schools somewhere in the middle.

Most likely, one of the schools in the middle is where you will end up enrolling at.

Every school application takes time, and you shouldn’t waste a lot of time sending out numerous applications to schools you won’t get into.

Plus, most colleges will charge you an application fee too.

Get a realistic idea of which schools you could get accepted at and then concentrate on getting into them. Get started on those specific school applications, spend a lot of time making sure the applications are the best you can make them and apply early.

Your College Potential

Universities want to have a student body filled with students who have special qualities and abilities.

These qualities and abilities can either be related strictly to academics or outside the classroom.

They also want applicants who seem like they have lots of potential, a lot of upside.

If this sounds like you, great, but if you are having problems developing a resume that shows how incredible and special you are, you may have to score points in other areas.

Look at a typical university. What do they have?

They have multiple sports teams, choirs, marching bands and other organizations that the school is very proud of. And all of these organizations need kids to fill the positions in these organizations.

If you can demonstrate that you are someone who can successfully participate in one of these groups, you may be able to differentiate your application from some of the other ones they receive.

Start for College Early

If you’re thinking about going to a great college, you can’t just wake up one day in August before your senior year starts and decide that you’re going to enroll at a great university.

You’ve got competition.

It’s a buyer’s market out there. And what you’re selling isn’t so great.

If a selective school is in your future plans, you’ve gotta get started early.

Think of getting into college as a process, not a single action.

You get accepted by doing a good job inside and outside of class and continuing to work at it every week and you gradually complete all the steps necessary to receiving that acceptance letter.

The best universities want to see four years of solid grades and extracurricular activity.

Specifically, you should get started taking a foreign language class as soon as you can so you have four years completed by the time you graduate.

The same goes for math. Don’t put those classes off when you’re a freshman. Take them right away.

You should also join some organizations in your early years as well. You want to become a leader of one or more of those groups by the time you start your senior year, so you need to get involved with them early and work your way up to a leadership position.

Getting Started

So we have just started working on this new site.

We have the main structure up, pages built, and now we just need to fill those pages out with stuff to read.

We’re looking forward to getting the site built and making some new friends.

Thanks.