College Admissions 101: 9 Things That Give You an Edge

Tips For College Admission Test TakingAre you starting to think about your dream college or university? Getting to college isn’t just about perfect grades. Check out these nine tips from online tutor Natalie S. to stand out from the crowd…

Applying to college can sometimes be a daunting and scary process. There are so many things to consider when choosing the right schools, and on top of that there’s four years of prep work to do in order to even begin applying!

We know what colleges look for in prospective students, and we can help you stand out among all of the other applicants.

Check out the nine things below that can give you an edge and help you get accepted into the college of your choice:

1) Strong GPA. Since universities thrive on academic excellence, make sure you keep your GPA in tip-top shape. Try to consistently close each quarter with As and Bs in all of your subjects. Colleges expect that you will be stronger in some subjects over others, however, it’s important to try to keep your overall GPA above a 3.5. Seek out help from a tutor if you need additional assistance in a particular subject. Sometimes, it’s easy to get sucked into taking the higher-level courses, but in the end, if they end up being too advanced, you may get lower grades. While it looks great on paper to participate in honors and AP courses, it’s not worth the risk if they consistently lower your overall GPA.

2) Charity Work. Get involved in your local community and give back to those in need. Are you an animal lover? Volunteer at an animal shelter. Love to read? Help out at your local library. By partaking in charity work, you show colleges that you are committed to bettering the world for the future and that you’ll be an asset to their campus life.

3) Leadership Skills. Whether you serve as student body president or a team captain, colleges love to see their prospective students act as leaders in their communities. Find an extracurricular activity or cause that you are passionate about and get involved in organizing and leading others. What was once a simple hobby could become your ticket into college!

4) Good SAT/ACT scores. Twenty years ago, your SAT score was the only major test score that universities looked at when they selected students. Now, students have the chance to shine in other exams too. Take the SAT and the ACT, and submit both scores to colleges. Even better, take the SAT and ACT more than once. Many schools superscore (i.e. take your highest score in each section of the SAT and add them together to find a new, giant score), so taking the SAT and ACT multiple times could increase your overall score. If you need help preparing for either test, don’t forget to seek out a tutor. There are all kinds of programs and many qualified tutors who specialize in helping students on these types of exams.

5) In Fact, Take ALL of the Tests. The College Board also offers SAT 2 subject tests that allow students to shine in their favorite subjects. Take these tests to show colleges that you’re passionate enough about math to voluntarily go above and beyond and test yourself on it.

6) School Spirit. Get involved with your high school! Colleges want students who are passionate about the school that they attend and who will participate in campus activities. Prove this by joining school clubs, teams, or charity organizations that fit your interests.

7) Musical, Bilingual, and Artistic Involvement. The fine and performing arts have begun carrying more weight for getting into college. Show your diversity by playing an instrument, learning another language, or letting your artistic side shine. These are talents that can help you stand out from other applicants.

8) Passion and Personality. Most importantly, make sure all of the activities you’re involved in give you the ability to express your passion and personality. Pursue things that make you feel positive and productive. Avoid engaging in activities that don’t really excite or interest you because you will generally not excel at them, and they will not end up being a benefit to you when applying to colleges.

9) Progression. Did you get a C in Spanish? Worried this will ruin your perfect GPA? Don’t fret; universities know that students have to progress in their problem areas. A bad grade isn’t a death sentence; it’s an opportunity to show universities that you’re willing to fight for your success. And, of course, don’t forget to find a tutor if you need help with a problem subject!

Getting into college may seem like a scary process, but once you break it down into manageable steps, it can be an exciting journey that ends with you at the college of your choice. Good luck!

Natalie S.Natalie S. tutors online in English, ESL, History, Phonics, Reading, and Test Prep. She received her BA in English Education at the University of Delaware, and her MA in English Literature at San Diego State University. Learn more about Natalie here!



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Photo by Bill Selak

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