1. Get the best grades in the most advanced classes you can. The first thing college admissions officers look for in evaluating any application is your curriculum and grades. The most effective way to become an attractive candidate is to impress them with your coursework and GPA. If you need help raising your grade in any particular subject(s), our outstanding tutors can help.
2. Learn as much as you can about the application process by reading blogs and listening to podcasts. There are many pieces to the puzzle, and they cannot be figured out overnight. Carve out time to investigate all the elements in the process, including performing well in school, taking standardized tests, researching schools, writing applications, preparing for visits and interviews, and making your best final decision. A great place to start is CollegePrepExpress‘s blog and 30-minute internet radio show, “Prep Talk” with CollegePrepExpress, also available on iTunes! Coming soon: Dr. Yo’s Guide to Accepted Applications!
3. Research colleges online by visiting their websites AND their social media outlets (especially Facebook and Twitter). Make sure the schools on your list meet all your criteria for size, location, degrees offered, special programs, internships and volunteer opportunities, and any special needs or desires you may have. Talk to your friends who are applying and, wherever possible, who are attending or have attended each school. “Like” each school’s Facebook page and follow as many Twitter feeds as you can find; this shows them “demonstrated interest,” a new buzzword and phenomenon they’re looking for.
4. Meet with your school guidance counselor or a CollegePrepExpress consultant to generate a list of “reaches,” “reasonables,” and “safeties.” Every applicant should have these three categories of schools: a dream list of schools you would love to attend but perhaps don’t quite have the grades or scores typically required for admission; a list of schools that roughly match your grades and scores; and one or two schools you will very likely get into and wouldn’t be upset if you ended up attending.
5. Contact coaches or musical and art directors where appropriate. If you’re a star athlete or performer, make early contact with appropriate personnel at each institution. We can walk you through the whole process. These folks can play a large role in admissions committees’ final decisions.
6. Prepare for the TOEFL, SAT and/or ACT, and, where appropriate, AP exams and SAT Subject Tests. Use the many strategy and practice books available, take a class, or hire a tutor. CollegePrepExpress has an EXCELLENT track record of success in raising students scores and offers in-person and online via video (Skype, FaceTime, and Google Hangouts) tutoring and classes.
7. Study the various sections of the CommonApp and develop a personal marketing strategy with the help of your guidance counselor and CollegePrepExpress consultant. It is paramount that every applicant coordinate the various pieces of the CommonApp. The most important ones to consider are the personal Essay, the list of Activities, and the various supplemental questions asked by each individual college. Just as retail products that are well-packaged sell better, so too do students who are well-packaged “sell” better to admissions committees. Consider enrolling in either CPE’S CommonApp Boot Camp (summer) or CommonApp Workshop (fall) to help you GET IT DONE!
8. Carefully craft your Activities list. Note that the directions specify the list should be made in order of importance to you, so college admissions committees learn a lot about you depending on the order in which you list your activities. There is very limited space for elaboration, so you might want to get help phrasing your positions held, honors won, and other details each placeholder calls for. They’re very stingy with characters.
9. Write several drafts of your personal essay and short activities essay. There are many books available to show you examples of effective essays and offer guidance on how best to write compelling essays, including Dr. Yo’s eBook, coming soon, Dr. Yo’s Guide to Accepted Applications! It is also a very good idea to get help from professionals with many years of experience in the field: application essay writing is both a science and an art, and college bound students are rarely old enough or experienced to pull it off without some help. In addition to our CommonApp Boot Camp (summer) or CommonApp Workshop (fall), which takes you through the whole application (including the essay) soup to nuts, you can use CollegePrepExpress‘s essay consulting and editing services to ensure you write a powerful and ultimately successful set of essays.
10. Write several drafts of the Supplement essays for each college. See #9 above. It’s also very important to write as specifically as you can about each school and the elements of the college that really attract you.
11. Carefully review every piece of the application before submitting. Have several people read it if possible, including an expert consultant at CollegePrepExpress.
12. Prepare for and schedule interviews whenever possible, either on campus or by alumni in your area. Schedule one or two hours with a CollegePrepExpress consultant to go over the most commonly asked questions and to practice your answers.