Reality check: You’re not as unique as your parents want you to think. In fact, you’re one of several million high school students applying for college. While your mom might brag about you to all of her friends and your nephew calls you his “hero,” this does not qualify you for college acceptance in any way. If you really want to stand out from the other millions of students out there, take note of these college admissions tips for the modern student.
Your 2015 College Admissions Guide
1. Start researching yesterday. As in right NOW. (After you finish reading these awesome admissions tips, of course!) Whether you’re a high school freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior, you need to be doing all that you can to research the colleges you’re even mildly interested in. Write down a list of things that are important to you in a college and start Googling!
2. Actively participate in college tours. Don’t just visit the campus and browse around nomadically. Take a notebook with you and jot down notes as you go. List the things that stand out to you most about each college – both good and bad. This will be helpful to you later on when it comes time for writing admissions essays. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions along the way. This shows that you’re truly interested in learning more about the school, and gets you the information you need.
3. Your favorite high school teacher may not be the best choice for a written recommendation. Sure, Mr. Brown is hilarious and easy on the eyes, but that doesn’t mean he’s the optimal choice for your letter of recommendation. Spend time with several teachers and ask them to help you identify your biggest strengths and weaknesses. Once you get a good feel for the teachers that really know you and can articulate your best assets, ask them if they’d be willing to write it down on paper as a recommendation for you. Just make sure you give them plenty of notice because teachers are busier than you think.
4. If the interview is optional, DO IT! Interviews are intimidating for most everyone, but so is college in general, so get used to it. By opting in for an interview you’re allowing yourself the opportunity to connect with the admissions office on a personal level. Putting a face and a personality with an application can make all the difference in the world, especially if you’re not so great at expressing yourself in writing. It also makes you seem more interested in the school than someone who forgoes the interview.
5. Don’t write your essays about yourself. For many high school students, this is all they know how to do. Your essay will stand out from the crowd if you instead focus it on the benefits the school will receive by having you as a student. Show that you’ve done your research by mentioning certain topics the school is passionate about. You can share your own passion for these topics or causes, creating an immediate link between yourself and the school.
6. Submit your application as early as possible. College admissions offices take note of early applicants. They assume you must really be interested if you’ve already done your research and put forth the effort this early on in the college selection process. They also take note of applicants that have waited until the deadline to apply. Not to mention, the writing quality of the last minute applicants is often much worse because they’re obviously rushing to finish their essays and applications.
Getting Into College Takes Work
Hard work is part of growing up, whether you like it or not. Just know that you’ll be fine if you enlist the help of your parents and teachers, and use these college admissions tips as a guide along the way. I leave you now with words from the wise Walt Disney, “All our dreams can come true…if we have the courage to pursue them.”
Not quite ready to start applying to colleges just yet? Check out all of your favorite colleges on a college tour with Campus Visit Experts.