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How do I get into a good college?

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Subject: Career question for you

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8 answers

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John’s Answer

Admissions officers are looking for students that will best thrive and contribute to the unique milieu at their college. Specifically strong grades in a rigorous curriculum along with strong standardized test scores are seen first. Then they look for well written and thoughtful essays, leadership in a community, athletic or artistic talent, and desire to attend. Basically, almost everything that makes ones a good friend, citizen, and person also makes them attractive to an admissions officer.

More colleges are moving away from accepting students who did the most “stuff” to looking for those who focus their energy in specific areas that they’re passionate about. Schools want to see what makes you special and how hard you’re willing to work at the things you care about. Knowing what the colleges you’re applying to are looking for helps you to make the best possible choices for college prep and to craft a better application when the time comes. Contacting your top school choices will give you a more specific picture of what they all expect, allowing you to target your applications for each and increase the chances of acceptance.

John recommends the following next steps:

Challenging High School Curriculum. It goes without question that grades are an extremely important element of your college application. Colleges will ask you to submit official transcripts from your high school and possibly recalculate your grade point average based on some internal system they use for weighting different types of courses. Your goal, from the first year of high school forward, is to achieve the best grades you can. If you had a rough freshman year, but have since rebounded with much stronger grades, fear not, because colleges certainly look for trends in academic achievement -- and a record of constant improvement when your GPA is not as strong as you would like is a good sign to most admissions counselors about your growth and potential.
Spend sufficient time developing your college essays. Think and reflect before you write. Write, edit, rewrite. This is your opportunity to sell yourself. Convey who you are in your writing: energetic, exciting, passionate, and intellectually curious. How can you make the real “you” stand out from the rest of the crowd? Get feedback on the essays from your teachers and/or other school personnel.
Quality Recommendation Letters. The recommendation letters that you ask your teachers and your guidance counselor to write can play a key role in your college application. Ideally, you have a few favorite teachers -- teachers who not only know the quality of your work and academic acumen, but also can talk about some of your personal qualities. It's best to ask your teachers for letters as early as you can so that they have the time to write a quality letter; obviously the most popular teachers will need even more time if they have requests from many of their students.
Leadership Positions in a Few Organizations. Most colleges and universities are seeking leaders from within their applicant pool, and you can make your application stand out by having one or two leadership positions over the course of your high school career. Being a leader in one or two organizations means much, much more than simply being a member in 10 clubs and organizations. Not only does leadership show a certain level of maturity and character, but colleges also have an eye to all their student organizations and their need to recruit future leaders. You don't need to be the president of an organization, but you should be an officer of at least one group by the time you're a senior.

Thank you! Anna M.

Your Welcome Anna. Believe you can and you’re halfway there. John Frick

Thank you Dexter for your continued support. We should always give without remembering and always receive without forgetting. John Frick

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Thomas’s Answer

"12 Tips for Getting into the College of Your Choice
College admission officers carefully assess your high school grades, courses, test scores, essays, activities, recommendations, and interviews, if required. You will increase your chances of getting into the colleges of your choice by following these twelve tips:

Get the best possible grades you can during ALL four years of high school. Grades are extremely important.

Take academically rigorous classes ALL four years. You should carry as many challenging courses as you can handle—college prep, Advanced Placement (AP), honors, and International Baccalaureate (IB).

Practice taking the SAT or ACT. Become familiar with the types of material covered and the test directions. Take the PSAT during your sophomore year. Determine what knowledge and skills you lack and master them for the actual tests. Take advantage of free online SAT or ACT materials, study guides, practice tests, tutors, and prep courses before or during your junior year.

Try taking both the SAT and ACT. Colleges will accept either test. You may do better on one test than the other. This will boost your chances for admission. Take the SAT or ACT more than once if you are not satisfied with your scores.

Take SAT Subject Tests and AP Tests. Competitive colleges may require you to take some of these exams and they take note of exam results. Only AP scores of five (5) are accepted by top colleges.

Spend sufficient time developing your college essays. Think and reflect before you write. Write, edit, rewrite. This is your opportunity to sell yourself. Convey who you are in your writing: energetic, exciting, passionate, and intellectually curious. How can you make the real “you” stand out from the rest of the crowd? Get feedback on the essays from your teachers and/or other school personnel.

Become involved in your school and/or community during ALL four years and summer vacations. You need to keep track of your involvement in extracurricular and co-curricular activities, sports, and/or volunteer activities in your community. Move up to leadership positions. Demonstrate growth. Develop a deep interest or talent in one or more areas.

Ask your school counselor and teachers who know you well for recommendations. At least a month in advance of college deadlines for recommendations, jog their memories by providing them with a “personal data” or “brag sheet” highlighting your academic accomplishments, athletics, activities, and community service and leadership positions. Also, highlight anything special you did during the summer (for example, foreign travel to improve language skills, volunteer work, projects).

Prepare for on-campus interviews, if required by colleges. Re-read your essays and any information you have acquired on specific colleges. Be friendly and articulate. Dress professionally, not casually. After the interviews, send thank you notes or e-mails expressing your continued interest in their institution.

Decrease your stress by starting your search for colleges early—no later than the start of your junior year. This gives you adequate time for researching colleges, completing applications, writing essays, and taking necessary exams.

Get organized and stay focused. Make a file folder for each college that interests you and put relevant information inside of it (for example, a copy of your application and essay, any materials downloaded from the Internet). Keep focused on your ultimate goal: Getting into the college of your choice. Use these checklists to plan the tasks you should take to get into the college of your choice:"

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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Anna! Great question! First of all, do well in classes as well as standardized tests like SAT/ACT. Now some colleges have omitted this option in place for emphasis on GPA and extracurriculars however I think that most still do require it so doing well on them and beginning to study say around your sophomore/junior year will help. I would recommend Khan Academy for lessons on SAT as well as other subjects, it's a free and personalized website to really help out students! In addition analyze where you are at in terms of schooling, if you are a sophomore then thinking about colleges, maybe touring a couple and starting a list is the time. If you are still early in your education say middle school or first year of high school then for now take part in clubs and activities; shape yourself to who you would like to be. If you are interested in teaching (as mentioned by your hashtag) possibly volunteer to help tutor younger kids. In your application to colleges you will write a personal statement basically telling about who you are, your passion, your past, present and future as well as the goals you have planned. Being able to provide community service, especially in a passion for something you have, will show to the colleges that you are giving, compassionate and committed to your goals. In college I am not too familiar with a teaching degree but I know there are programs to apply to and internships to obtain like substituting therefore working alongside something similar in high school will give you leverage when applying to college. I think if you also have interests in other clubs and activities then definitely check them out, maybe you like science and want to join the science club or you love to also be an editor in the newspaper club at your school- just some options. Sports are also helpful as they help provide teamwork skills but remember these are just ideas because in the end you decide what you like to do! I would also recommend to get to know your teachers if you are in high school because you will need recommendation letters; these writers should be individuals who have gotten to know you well and can speak about your work ethic and character in depth so choose wisely! They can also be supervisors as well or coaches in your activities to provide diversity. Lastly, a good college can mean differently for each student, I would recommend to make a list and analyze what draws you to each college as well as their statistics for applicants. Make a baseline about their GPA and SAT scores so when you apply you can know which to apply to based on your academic credentials as well. In addition ask yourself about their programs, and how they align with your goals; and see what kind of colleges you like, do you want to move out of state, or live in state, the cost, dorming vs. commuting, so factoring in distance as well as small or large campuses? With tours, researching and answering these kind of questions you can really pinpoint what type of colleges you are interested in and apply accordingly.

I hope this helps!
I wish you the best future undergrad!

Yasemin recommends the following next steps:

Do well in classes/SAT
Research colleges
Get to know your teachers
Be involved and committed in a couple of activities

Thank you so much! Anna M.

You're very welcome! Yasemin G.

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Erica’s Answer

How do I get into a good college?
Colleges definitely look at your grades, the level of the classes you've taken throughout high school, and your extracurriculars when taking admission into consideration. I would say don't overwhelm yourself, though. Take on what you know you can handle and an additional challenge or two so that you can do your best in the classes and activities you choose to take part in.

Additionally, remember that even if your grades are lacking in some places, you can often make up for it with your SAT or ACT test scores, and especially with the personal essays on different applications where you get to present yourself as the unique individual you are rather than just a collection of numbers.

Another thing to recognize is that different colleges are the best for different individuals. Research the top universities for the specific degree you hope to pursue, and if possible you may be able to contact their admissions office or ask current and previous students about what kind of things were included on their applications. Don't forget to research more into the campus-life and atmosphere of these colleges as well, your well-being is an essential element for your education!
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Lyndsay’s Answer

If you want to go to college right after high school, you need to be working hard in high school. You should join clubs, play sports, do theater, whatever interests you but universities look for a well rounded person with great test scores. I highly recommend going to community college first, it's a lot easier to get in with very little focus on extra curriculars. and it's so much less expensive. Work really hard at the CC level then transfer to your dream university.

Thank you so much! Anna M.

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Atul’s Answer

What is your definition of your good college?
Is it education?
Is it partying?
Is it well known sports team?
I am assuming you want to go for education in a good college.
If you have a very good SAT score and have written good essays along with teachers’ recommendations- you should do well to go to good college.
My sons went to the state university and are making very comfortable living and have no student loan debt.
Net-net: a definition of a good college is a herd mentality where someone tells you this is a good college/univ. But one size does not fit all.
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Abigail’s Answer

To get into a good school, you should be taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible! Get a part-time job if possible - it shows you are hard working. Join in community activities through a church or or organization - it shows you are a part of something. Join all of the clubs, play an instrument, and become a leader within these roles - colleges love to see leadership experience. Volunteer! Lots! Not only is it rewarding for you, but looks great on applications, and is a great talking point during any interviews if applicable. Of course, work hard in school! GPA is key for college admission, and although most schools are moving away from standardized testing, if you get a good score that can only help boost an application. Also, a good personal statement or essay question answer that makes you stand out always helps - tell a story about you that many other don’t have. What makes you unique? Why does that make you a good candidate for admission? Why is this school the perfect fit for you, and you for them? Also, it always helps to network - if you know alumni, get the inside scoop and get names of people you can talk to. My basic advice is to just keep busy during your high school years and do as many things as you can to add to a thorough resume for your applications. Plus, keep in mind the schools you aim to attend - some may like certain volunteering experience, such as if you plan on doing a pre-med track. Good luck and have fun!
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Lateia’s Answer

Hi Lyndsay

Get the best possible grades you can during ALL four years of high school. Grades are extremely important.

Practice taking the SAT or ACT. Become familiar with the types of material Take advantage of free online SAT or ACT materials, study guides, and practice test. I would recommend taking the test more than once.

Become involved in your school. Keep track of your involvement in extracurricular activities, sports, and volunteer activities in your school.

Ask your school counselor and teachers who know you well for recommendations.

Research the requirements for the college you would like to attend.

Never be afraid to ask for help ask from your school counselor and teachers.

Hope this helps!!