High School Students: What Does it Take to Get Into College?

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Getting into College

It may be summer, but as a high schooler, you probably have one thing on your mind: getting into your dream college. However, dreaming about your acceptance letter is just one part of the equation. Planning and working towards that stellar application requires a lot of work and foresight — and it begins today. These tips will help you prepare by showing you what it takes to get into college.

 

High School Students: What Does It Take to Get Into College?

Grades

If you want to get into a good school, you’re going to need to show them what you’re made of by bringing along an excellent report card. That doesn’t mean just passing; it means achieving. The more prestigious the school, the better grades in the tougher classes will be expected.

If you had a bad semester or you just can’t seem to ace your math courses, don’t sweat it too hard. College admissions counselors don’t solely weigh your GPA. They also want to see that if you failed, you managed to pick yourself up again.

Test grades matter as well, though not as much as you may think. While many colleges advertise an average ACT or SAT score, the numbers are usually just a guideline. Other activities and application materials will be weighted, too.

Activities

Most colleges want to bring on students that have school pride, are involved, and have ambitions outside of class. Activities can be a way of showing off your well-roundedness. Now is the time to sign up for Spanish Club or to try out for cheer leading.

If you’re an athlete, getting into college on a sports scholarship is a whole other monster. You’ll want to talk to your coaches as soon as possible about how to attract the right admissions counselors to see you play. If you’re planning on going into the arts, you’ll need to start building your portfolio, brushing up on your auditions pieces, or videotape performances. This will give you something to show when admissions season comes around.

Volunteerism and Work

Volunteering regularly in your community isn’t a requirement to get into college, but it can set you apart from the crowd. And it doesn’t take much at all! You can do little things like participating in a monthly park cleaning day or something much larger like organizing a coat drive at your school. Find a cause or issue that matters to you and get to work. Colleges like to see that you are driven to make the world a better place.

A second option/alternative to volunteering is to actually going out and get a job. Universities love to see future students take on adult-sized responsibilities like building a resume. Plus, as a bonus, you’ll start saving for school even earlier.

The Application

Finally, none of this would be evident to your college admissions advisor without that dreaded application. All colleges have a form of this with their own deadlines and admissions periods. Our advice is to focus in on a few key items: when early admissions applications are due, how many recommendation letters you need and how they must be sent in, and what (if any) essay(s) you need to complete.

Early admissions is a great way to show how serious you are about your school choice, but early admissions applications means getting everything ready way in advance of the normal application process. This means planning your recommendations (contacting, reminding, confirming) and completing your essay (writing, editing, re-reading). By planning out your application, as well as your qualifications, in advance, you can ensure you’re on target to get  accepted to your ideal college.

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Katherine Carpenter

Katherine Carpenter

Hi I'm Katherine! I love DIY projects, especially ones that I can use to make my dorm room pop! My favorite flavor of ice cream is mint chocolate chip, especially when it's on a cone. I love hanging out with my sorority sisters and giving back to the community. Always remember to live, laugh and love!