Improve Your Admission Chances

It's entirely possible to boost your chances of getting in. Here are five steps you can take to become an outstanding applicant.

Admission officers are less interested in innovative applications and much more interested in innovative students who show enthusiasm for learning. Here are strategies for becoming this ideal candidate.

1. Challenge Yourself

Colleges want successful students who seek out the most challenging courses available to them. If you are not already taking honors courses at your high school, enroll in some. Even if you get a late start, colleges will notice your efforts if you do well.

2. Get Used to Standardized Tests

There's only one way to bolster your confidence and test-taking skills: practice, practice, practice. It won't make you perfect, but it can make you a less nervous and more efficient test taker.

3. Show Initiative Beyond Your Schoolwork

Gone are the days when getting good grades and being active in lots of clubs or community service made you stand out. Colleges want students who work hard outside class all years of high school, stick to their commitments, and show leadership. After all, that is what you will need to do if you attend their college.

4. Learn to Write Well

College applications are a showcase for your writing. Well-thought-out and grammatically correct answers and essays can tip the admission scales in your favor. On the other hand, poor writing can ruin your chances. Share your written work with your English teacher or another skilled writer—and ask for advice about improving your grammar and communication skills.

5. Get Help

Don't go it alone. Take full advantage of your high school guidance counselor, a favorite teacher, your parents, and even the college representatives you meet. They can play coach, advocate, and facilitator as you navigate the road to college.

What's Next?

  • Estimate your chances of acceptance at any four-year college using College Chances.
  • For advice from recent applicants, visit College Buzz. You'll find out how real students prepared for—and got admitted to—their target colleges.
  • Review the articles in Prepare and Apply for more ideas on becoming a strong college applicant.

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