Consider What Colleges Want

  • A rigorous high school curriculum that challenges the student.

  • Grades that represent strong efforts and an upward trend. 

  • Solid ACT or SAT test scores. These should be consistent with high school performance.

  • Passionate involvement in a few activities, demonstrating leadership and initiative. With extracurricular activities, it's depth - not breadth - of experience that is most important.

  • Letters of recommendation from teacher and guidance counselor that give evidence of integrity, special skills, positive character traits and interest in learning.

  • A well-written essay that provides insights into the student's unique personality, values, and goals. 

  • Special talents or experiences that will contribute to an interesting and well-rounded student body.

  • Demonstrated leadership and intellectual curiosity through reading or leisure pursuits.

  • Demonstrated enthusiasm to attend (can be done through campus visits or interview)

Take Time to Apply

  • Keep track of all deadlines and make sure to submit your applications in time.

  • Focus on neatness and completeness. Be sure to proofread everything.

  • Submit optional essays or supplemental materials

  • Ask your teachers for recommendations. It's a good idea to give them an activity resume to help with this task. Be sure to give them plenty of notice

  • Prepare for interviews. Think about what you want to say and questions you want to ask.

  • Demonstrate your interest in the college by visiting, emailing or calling the admissions office. Be sure to leave your name, telephone number and where you are from.

  • Don't forget to submit the FAFSA early in January of your senior year. Some colleges may also require the CSS Profile.

  • Apply for scholarships. Look at the college websites for opportunities.

Write an Outstanding College Essay

  • Be authentic! Colleges want to learn more about you and this is your chance to shine.

  • Find and describe a specific moment that helped shaped the person you are today. 

  • Capture the reader's attention.

  • Do NOT let anyone else write your essay and be careful with having it edited. Admissions officers want the essay to be from the student and often can tell when there's too much outside influences.

  • Be real. You do not have to write about how you changed the world! Be true to yourself. It's okay to discuss failure and talk about what you learned from them.

  • It is not too early to start working on your personal statement.

  • Don't neglect the shorter, supplemental essay on the application

  • Make sure you proofread all essays. They should be free of spelling and grammatical errors.