Undergraduate Admissions: Five Tips

You are now two or three years into your high school education, and you want to make sure your hard work and dedication pay off. Sure, not all of us are genius students, but we all need boost our credentials such that we maximize potential university possibilities. Grades and standardized test scores, of course, will carry great weight in determining your college options, but there are other pertinent factors in the application process as well. Below are five tips on how to optimize your college application process.

1) Take an SAT or ACT Prep Course:

While the SAT and ACT standardized tests are designed to assess academic aptitude, they are fatally biased in that they can be studied and prepared for.  Test Prep companies such as Kaplan and Princeton Review have been in business for years on this premise, the idea that in just a couple months you can significantly improve your scores on these exams, simply by studying and learning testing strategies.  While some people are naturally better test takers than others, these prep courses promise to, at the very least, coach students at what to expect come test day.

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2) Be Involved in Extra-Curricular Activities:

Good grades alone are not enough for some colleges.  Most schools, especially the elite ones, want to see that their incoming class is not just a bunch of book worms.  Sure, academics are important and the primary reason and qualification behind going onto college, but being involved in sports, volunteer work, clubs, playing an instrument and other activities can prove just as important in building real world skills and becoming a well-adjusted individual in society.  Universities love diversity, so being involved in some interesting activities will help differentiate you from the other applicants.

3) Be Realistic:

Everybody would love to go to Harvard or Stanford, but you need to be realistic.  If you have a 2.5 GPA and average SAT exam scores, your chances of attending a top five University are slim to none, unless of course you are a Kennedy, a Bush, your family can donate millions to the school, or you have seedy pictures of the president of the university.  Save yourself time and money (application fees can get pricey) by applying to schools that fit your credentials.  There is a great deal of literature on expected GPA’s and test scores necessary for admission to respective schools in the US, and your high school academic advisors should be able to help you acquire information.

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4) Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute:

Sure you may be a successful procrastinator in school, one who can wait until the night before an exam to begin studying and still get an A.  Filling out college applications, however, is a bit different.  You will want to spend time and have others review your application essays and writing portions before sending them out.  Being able to step away from the process and rethink some of your application content, as well as having extra sets of eyes to review your work, can only improve your final product.  Further, many schools have a rolling admissions policy, so you don’t want to put yourself in a position where only a few seats remain as the deadline approaches.

5) Visit the Schools You May Attend:

You can definitely get a lot of information on your prospective colleges through literature, the internet, word of mouth, and reputation.  Still, there is nothing like actually visiting the schools in which you are interested.  Many people wait until they are actually accepted into a university before visiting its campus, and some never even visit their future college destination. Try to get a sense of what intrigues you about these institutions and then visit the campuses to ensure that your perceptions are mirrored in reality.