With college admissions decisions recently released, those in high school can see how difficult it is to gain acceptance at more selective colleges. Regardless of a student's eventual college list, it is essential to take certain steps.
As high school seniors work away on their applications, questions frequently arise regarding how admission decisions are made. Here are some things to keep in mind:
• Ask for a copy of your high school's profile and become familiar with it. This is what the colleges will see. This profile will be used by Admission Officers to learn what is offered at your high school and how you have maximized your curriculum. The profile contains the high school's demographics, rank policy, semester or block system, grading evaluation method, grades weighted or not and standardized test score averages.
• Know that colleges do create files for students that apply.
Since what is included in those files are generally not revealed, it is best to make sure your presence (online and in person) be proper. Also, keep track of any communications with colleges.
What colleges may keep in your file:
- email & phone communications
- public Social Media profiles
- links to any blogs, personal website information
- notes from any interview, including the receptionist
Most importantly, students must remain vigilant - do Google searches on themselves to see what pops up and set up privacy settings on social sites.
• Early Decision can increase a student's chance of acceptance
The commitment a student makes with regard to Early Decision assures the college that the student will attend. Colleges like to accept students they believe will attend, as they are interested in their yield, something that affects stature and financial planning of the college. This early group of students is smaller and therefore qualified students may have an increased chance of admission. However, keep in mind that these students' profiles are competitive both in their activities and academically. If students are certain of their first choice and are qualified candidates, then applying Early Decision is a good idea.
• Make your Common Application and all others stand out
With the increased sophistication of technology and the options of items to include along with college applications, students can distinguish themselves from other candidates over and above grades and test scores. Most colleges allow students to submit supplemental information whether an arts supplement and/or science project. This is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their uniqueness. Most applications have an "additional information box" where additional resume items, a brief essay, and new information can be included that is not yet revealed elsewhere on the application.
• Get contact information at college visits, college fairs and from representatives who visit your high school. Personal contacts are important as students can have an opportunity to express interest in a college. If a college offers an interview, then do it! The interview can make students more appealing to a college.
• First Generation Students and socioeconomic family information may help
First generation students (when neither parent has graduated from a college in the USA) can have a priority in admissions, as colleges need to report how many First Generation and low-income students they will enroll. So, if a student is in this category, it should be emphasized on the application
• Distinguish Yourself
A large percentage of candidates attending the most competitive colleges have something that makes them stand out from others. Highlighting an applicant's uniqueness significantly increases the chance of admission. Some factors that give students the added benefit are legacy applicants, recruited athletes, large financial contributions (development) and Underrepresented and First Generation students
• Strong test scores alone will not get you accepted
Even perfect standardized test scores will not assure admission to any college. Excellent scores will get the application reviewed and perhaps passed on to other committees, but there are so many other parts that are taken into consideration. Grade point average and the most challenging curriculum are the number one criteria in admissions. Students need to convey their authenticity, academic interests and most important allow the readers to gain insight into the their character.
• Attending a private high school may not have preference over public schools.
Colleges, for the most part, are looking to build diversified freshmen classes ethnically, geographically, academically and financially. Public high schools offer that kind of range. Some private high schools are much more competitive academically and students have a harder time excelling.
• Know that colleges market their schools
When college representatives tour the country and make presentations about their schools they encourage students to apply. They don't ask if the student is qualified to apply. They just tell them to apply. After all, the more students that apply and the less they take, make them more selective. Colleges also buy lists from the College Board so they can recruit students. Be leery of mailings, brochures and invitations. Students should not believe this gives them an edge in admissions. Colleges are wonderful educational institutions but they are also businesses.
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