If you are beginning your senior year of high school, you might be worrying about how you can possibly increase your chances of getting accepted to your top college choices. You’ve worked earnestly for the last 3 years and that work has all been excellent preparation. Now it’s time for the next stage—the application process. Here are some tips to help you:
• Stay calm, but take action!
• Take necessary standardized tests—if you have time, consider an SAT/ACT prep course.
• Remain on top of your classes—don’t let your grades drop.
• Continue your involvement with extracurricular commitments.
• Take a critical look at your overall college application. Are you short on demonstrated leadership? Consider taking on a leadership role in an extracurricular activity – maybe an officer in an existing student group – or found your own club dedicated to something you are passionate about. How about community service engagement? Consider organizations in your school or community where you can engage with others in the support of worthwhile causes. Are there any subject areas that you struggled in? Consider taking a few SAT II subject exams to demonstrate strength in other subjects. In short, try to think of ways to make up for perceived shortcomings.
• Identify college choices—try to find around 10 colleges that are a good fit for your career interests, desired locations, school size, extracurricular offerings, and other considerations that are important to you. Check out their first-year student profiles to get a sense of the qualifications of the typical admitted student.
• Finalize college visits—take notes and get contact information from schools for follow up.
• Select teachers and ask them for letters of recommendation—choose teachers who can speak to your strengths and character. Ask them early enough (several weeks prior to your deadline) so they are not in a rush to meet your deadline. Consider meeting with them to discuss your plans for the future. Whenever possible, prepare a resume so they can see the sorts of activities you are involved with both inside and outside of school.
• Be aware of application deadlines and create a “to do list” so you don’t miss anything.
• If you have not already done so, write (and re-write) your college application essays—get going ASAP and remember to include any school-specific supplemental essays. The drafting, writing, re-writing, editing, and proofing will be a time-consuming part of your preparation. Don’t leave it for the last minute.
• Set up a meeting with your high school counselor to go over your plans and timeline.
You are juggling a lot of responsibilities but that’s a reality in life. Take a deep breath and do your best as you look toward your future at one of your top choice schools!Marie Todd has been involved in college admissions for over twenty years. Marie has both counseled applicants to top colleges and evaluated 5000+ applications for the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology; School of Nursing; and Taubman College of Architecture. Want Marie to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch with Marie Todd.