08/21/2012 04:24 pm ET Updated Oct 21, 2012

How to Hack Your Way Into a Top College

It's August and college freshmen who got their applications turned in and accepted in time to meet last year's deadlines are about to descend on campuses across America. Wish you were with them? Well, don't be too jealous if you missed that window, because I'm going to tell you about a life-hack that can get you admittance into almost any four-year school. And it's surprisingly easy.

Because unlike your friends who spent months trying to figure out complicated admission policies, stressing over application deadlines, competing with thousands of other students, and writing essay after essay during the drawn-out college application process, you won't have to worry about all that.

So what's this super top secret way to get into the program you want? Do you hire a WikiLeaks hacker to break into the college's mainframe and secretly enroll you? Bribe an admissions officer with cash, baked goods and the assurance that after you become successful you'll attribute all your success to her help? (Maybe even dedicate the novel you'll undoubtedly write about your thrilling rise to the top to her?)

Naw. Those WikiLeaks kids are hard to find and, plus, Julian Assange is kind of a jerk. And you don't have enough cash or baking skills to tempt an admissions officer. (Rumor has it they consume baked goods at a rate so alarming even a statistics major couldn't figure it out.) Plus, why bother when there's a hack that's completely legal?

If you missed the application deadline for fall classes, all you need to get back on track is to take advantage of something any student who's smart enough to know where to look and what questions to ask can make the most of -- a school's transfer partners.

Plan ahead, even if you've fallen behind

I'm a college coach at an online transfer school called Ivy Bridge College, so I help students who missed the first round of admission deadlines set up a transfer plan all the time. And two of the biggest questions students ask is who are transfer partners and how does a transfer partnership really work.

Basically, transfer partners are community and online colleges like Ivy Bridge that four-year universities agree to accept credits from. Universities make deals with transfer schools because they know they're a great place to get quality students (as in awesome students like you) and they know their classes and graduation requirements line up with the partner schools'. They're more likely to accept students from a transfer partner than from colleges they don't have a partnership with, or sometimes even other four-year schools, because they know and trust that school. Totally makes sense, right?

Talk to a coach, they're not just for athletes anymore
Okay, so here's where it can get tricky. Usually, finding a school's transfer partners takes initiative, time and some digging. If you're working alone, figuring out what credits work for the university you're going to transfer to can be confusing, so you have to be careful. Most colleges list their transfer partners online, and may have their course to course equivalencies posted as well. But if you're trying to find the transfer partners of a school who doesn't list them online, you'll want to wait and contact the counseling or general information office so they can tell you who their partners are.

At Ivy Bridge, we have partnerships with over 150 colleges, and college coaches like me already have the information about our partners and can even tell you what classes to take so all your credits transfer. This means you won't have to figure out what courses to enroll in and how to navigate the process and fill out the paperwork on your own.

Remember, sometimes two plus two is less than four

Starting at a two-year program and then transferring to a four-year university is a time-honored way to save on your overall college costs, but what most people don't realize is that it's also a great way to get into the college you have your eye on. Why wait and get a whole year behind when you can start now, finish in four years instead of five, and still get the degree that you want?

If you've missed your first chance, don't miss the second too
The only catch is time is running out -- I know Ivy Bridge closes the doors on the fall semester enrollment on August 14, so that means you only have a few days. And other program's enrollment closes soon too.

So get on it! Take advantage of this opportunity before you've missed not just your first, but your second chance to start college this fall. Talk to the college website or counseling office of the school you're interested in soon.

Whatever you do, don't give up. There's more than one way to get into the program you want. You just have to know where to look!