How To Get Into College: 5 Important Steps

  • The college recruiting process is different for every student who ventures through it. The success and outcome of this process varies for each individual depending on a number of specific factor related to the student, such as academic ability, athletic ability, school preferences and the like. Every college is different in what aspects they factor highest into their admission process. Some colleges will find GPA or SAT scores “Most Important”, while others would consider these factors “Somewhat Important”. So based on the college of your choice it is important to research these aspects at the start of your recruiting journey.

    Despite the above mentioned differences within the college recruiting process there are a number of general steps that students can take to maximize their chances of getting accepted into their targeted colleges. Below are 5 steps that will assist students in maximizing their chances of getting into college.

    1. Consistently work to obtain the best GPA and grades

    Although not THE defining factor for the success of your application, your GPA is the entrance tool to getting your application examined competitively. Your GPA determines which colleges you can gain entrance to with different colleges having different GPA ranges for admission. Having a great GPA can increase your chances of successful admission into a wider range of schools.

    Challenge yourself in your high school coursework! Colleges would rather see someone attain slightly lower grades in AP classes than consistently getting A’s in lower level classes because it shows that the student is willing to work and challenge themselves. In fact, students often believe that junior year is the most important year to obtain good grades. Although it is important, the most defining years are freshman and sophomore year to create a good base GPA which will allow you to get into more advanced classes later on.

    2. Aim for your highest SAT or ACT score and work to increase it

    SAT and ACT scores are similar to the above mentioned GPA requirement, in that they are an initial examination of a student and their fit within a college during the early application stages. There are additional important factors that will be considered after this, but GPA and SAT/ACT scores are usually the foot in the door at the college in question. Here are some tips to improve your SAT and ACT scores:

    • Practice SAT or ACT tests from previous years or prep classes that prepare you for the test.
    • Decide which test to take, the ACT or the SAT. Some people perform better on one test than the other, so it is worth determining which will give you the best score since the majority of colleges will take either. To help you decide which test to focus on, if you aren’t going to take both, follow this link.
    • Work to get the highest score possible, but do not overdo it. Colleges don’t want to see numerous attempts where scores only fluctuate slightly. It is better to take the test 1-3 times with scores that consistently improve. Improvement is a key feature that colleges will consider even if the score is not extremely high to start with.

    3. Join Clubs and Activities That You Love and Stick to Them

    Students tend to get caught up in trying to do the “best looking” club or activity that they believe will strengthen their college resume and application the most. However, joining and engaging with clubs and activities that you love will not only make your high school experience more enjoyable, but will shine through in your application as well.

    It is better to have more in-depth experience within a few clubs and/or activities than a wide breadth of shallow experience. Colleges want to see consecutive years engaged in the same activity rather than ten clubs that you joined for a few months before leaving. When you are involved with a club for a long time you gain more knowledge, leadership experience, growth, and have better experiences to talk about in your essays. Additionally, these long term memberships also communicate dedication, commitment and passion to your application evaluators.

    4. Write High Quality Essays

    High quality essays can make or break borderline applications. Where GPA and SAT scores are on the low end of the particular college’s spectrum, a great essay can push the candidate over the edge into a successful application status. A well written, unique essay can assist the adjudicators in getting to know the applicant and positively assessing their potential value to the college. Here are a couple of tips to assist in writing a great college application essay:

    • Write about something that you are passionate about or that shows who you are. This is your chance to let the college know what your grades and test scores can’t tell them, so be authentic and genuine.
    • Proofread, proofread, and proofread again. Get as many eyes to read your essay as you can because you only get one chance to submit it. A great concept can be tainted by poor vocabulary or other writing issues.

    5. Create Relationships with Teachers and Mentors

    You know you are a great student and person, but you want the college to know this too. When it comes to recommendations select teachers, coaches, or mentors who you have a strong relationship with that will attest to your character. Recommendations from teachers and mentors who you have formed a relationship with will always be more enthusiastic, convincing and revealing to adjudicators than generic recommendations from people who sort of know you. Establishing relationships early on in your high school career will only make it easier for you and your recommender to fulfill this requirement in a high quality manner.

    Successfully navigating these 5 steps in your college recruiting process will greatly assist you in finding and getting successfully admitted into your best fit schools. For resources and tools to maximize your success in the recruiting process from start to finish, check out ACA’s individual programs.