Applying for college is a physically and mentally exhausting process. It doesn’t matter if you are a recent high school graduate or a middle-aged aspiring undergraduate. Every step of the college application process features its own set of stage-specific stressors. If you want to help yourself get accepted to college, there are some things you need to do.
Before submerging yourself in the rocky waters of college application season, you need to come to terms with the growing competitiveness of college admissions.
Today’s college admissions process is entirely different from that of previous generations. In the 21st century, more students than ever are applying to university, meaning glowing standardized test scores and impressive GPAs aren’t the only stats that will get you in the door at your top-choice school.
Despite the number of hurdles in the college application process, earning a degree is almost a non-negotiable in this day and age. Unlike generations past, a Bachelor’s degree often correlates with receiving higher wages and a greater likelihood of being employed overall.
With the value of a college degree on a steady rise, you must set your sights on boosting your odds of gaining admission. Here are five top things you can do to get accepted to college.
1. Give yourself a reality check
Narrow down your list of top-choice schools and calculate your odds of acceptance at each school. This will give you a must-needed reality check.
Your odds are based on your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and recommendations. Calculating your chances will rule out far-out-of-reach schools.
While it’s good to have a selection of schools that are realistic, it’s in your best interest to sprinkle a few “reach” and “safety” schools into the mix. By definition, “safety schools” are colleges that accept the overwhelming majority of applicants or schools where your test scores exceed those of the average first-year.
On the other end of the spectrum, “reach schools” are where your admission odds are relatively low. Common examples of reach schools include Ivy League schools, with acceptance rates in the single digits and low teens.
Other competitive schools include schools with high academic standards but high acceptance rates, such as Pennsylvania State University. Penn State’s average accepted GPA rates tend to rank at 3.75 or above, and the Penn State acceptance rate hovers around the 50 percent mark.
By diversifying your list of top-choice universities, you can virtually guarantee that you’ll gain acceptance to a reputable college.
2. Show your interest
A significant way you can increase your acceptance odds is to demonstrate an interest in the schools you’re applying to. Visiting the colleges and signing up for an official tour is an easy way to do this.
However, if traveling and taking a school visit isn’t an option, there are easier ways to show interest in your hometown. If your high school hosts college fairs, visit the booths of the colleges you’re interested in and introduce yourself. Add yourself to their email list so they know your name.
Some other things you can do to express your interest include:
- Emailing professors in departments that have piqued your interest
- Networking with alumni in the area
- Requesting optional interviews
Remember, universities will factor your engagement into their final decision.
3. Volunteer in your community
Colleges and universities prefer aspiring undergraduates who are invested in their community and dedicated to giving back. Assisting at your local nursing home, helping out at an animal shelter, or serving food at a soup kitchen are a few ways you can get involved.
Rather than agreeing to any advertised volunteer events you stumble across, search for opportunities you’re truly passionate about. This is the best way to showcase your personality to colleges and universities.
Read our article 12 Meaningful Ways To Get Involved In Your Community to get some ideas!
4. Participate in extracurriculars
Involvement in the community includes participation in your high school’s extracurriculars. Find clubs at your high school that highlight your skills and interests. Joining them shows colleges and universities that you are more than just your grades and test scores.
It is also possible to join clubs that revolve around volunteering opportunities, making it easier to give back to your community.
Excelling in any of your extracurriculars and gaining special recognition helps you stand out among your competition.
5. Visit your teachers during office hours
Your high school teachers are an excellent resource for advice and guidance during the college application process. By visiting them during their office hours, you’ll receive expert opinions Google’s results can’t offer
Additionally, these appointments are unique opportunities to ask questions that can help you optimize class time and boost your grades.
Spending time with your high school mentors helps you guarantee they’ll write glowing letters of recommendation, which colleges and universities take into consideration when reviewing your applications.
Following the advice above will surely increase your chances that you get accepted to college!
Today, admission committees don’t reduce students’ value to grades and test scores.
Neglecting aspects of your academic profile outside of your grades and test scores is a textbook rookie mistake. Despite pervasive misconceptions, higher education institutions are deeply committed to diversifying their student bodies with dynamic and passionate individuals.
With this radical new take on college admissions in mind, ensuring that you devote special attention to all angles of your academic profile is a must. That way, you can boost the likelihood of gaining acceptance into your top-choice colleges and set yourself up for long-term financial success.