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4 Things You Should Know To Get Into Your Top College Picks


Are you worried about getting into your top colleges? If you’re thinking the competition is getting stiffer, you’re right. According to the latest statistics, the average school was accepting 65.5 percent of applicants, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling. That’s down from 71 percent in 2001.

And if you’re considering an elite private college like Harvard, Stanford or Yale, you need to be among the best of the best. Their acceptance rates range from 5 percent to 6 percent.

Start Preparing Now

Whether you’re a freshman plotting out the next four years of high school or a junior preparing to take the SAT, it’s never too early to think about what steps to take so you can get into the post-secondary institution of your choice.

Getting in isn’t always as simple as getting good grades. Admissions officers maintain highly secret formulas for developing the optimum mix of students for their institutions.

Whether it’s an online or bricks-and-mortar program at a community college, a state university or an Ivy League institution, students can face tough competition to fill one of a finite number of seats.

Here are four strategies to help you ace the college admissions process:

Decide whether it is more to your advantage to take the SAT or the ACT. In the past, which of these standardized tests you took was more a matter of geography, with the SAT more popular with East- and West-Coast institutions, while the ACT was favored by schools in the Midwest.

But these days, many schools will accept either. That’s good news because it allows applicants to play to their strengths, according to U.S. News and World Report. The ACT tends to be more fact-oriented, while the SAT assesses reasoning ability.

Participate in extracurricular activities. In addition to being fun, clubs, sports and other activities in and out of school enhance classroom learning by reinforcing the facts you’ve learned, helping develop new skills, and giving you better insight into yourself, according to Big Future by The College Board.

Create a unique community service project. There was a time when it was rare to find a teen who performed community service. But in an age when many schools require some community service for graduation, there still is some room to set yourself apart, according to College Rather than joining an existing group, identify a need and solve a problem by starting your own organization.

Tailor your essays and questionnaires to the institutions to which you apply. Not every post-secondary institution requires an in-depth essay for admission. But even those that don’t often have short questions intended to help admissions officers determine a student’s preparedness and commitment toward the completion of college.

Admissions counselors seek students who will help fulfill the mission of their institutions. Carleton College offers essay-writing tips that are useful regardless of the institution to which you choose to apply.

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