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Applying to College – Overview

You’ve narrowed down your list of potential schools and now the real fun begins — applying to college. The resources, information and commentary in this section will get you started.

Getting Accepted: What Colleges Look For in Applicants

Colleges and universities seek a diverse and balanced student body of motivated, involved, and qualified students with genuine interests, impressive achievements, interesting talents & experiences, sound character and real personalities – all with the potential to “fit in” and be an asset to the school. Find out what admissions officers look for in applications, essays, interviews, recommendations, and extracurricular activities.

Leveraging Your College Admissions Team

Applying to college is a major effort. The experience is probably brand new, and it’s also extremely important. There’s no need to go at it alone. You can benefit from the support and advice of people you know and trust.

College Applications: How Many?

Given today’s competitive admissions climate, experts suggest you apply to at least two colleges where you will almost certainly be admitted (i.e. “safety” or “probable” schools). Depending on your personal situation and goals, most advisors will encourage you to apply to at least five colleges and sometimes as many as twenty. Get acquainted with the jargon — reach, match, safety, super-stretch – and decide on a game plan that’s right for you.

Early Action and Early Decision

If you find a college that seems ideal for you, consider applying early. If you’re successful, you’ll be accepted into college (your top-choice) well in advance of most of your peers and you can enjoy a relatively stress-free second semester. Learn about various early admission options and see if these opportunities make sense for you.

Obtaining Applications

Now that you have completed your college search and have your list of schools, it’s time to get the applications. The Internet, The Common Application and college and university web sites have made it quick and easy to obtain college applications. Find out how.

Staying Organized

Organization is a big challenge for many college-bound students (and their parents). Fortunately, there are many excellent tools to help you get, and stay, organized. Don’t waste precious time chasing down lost passwords and missing applications. Learn about some great organizational resources to help you be efficient and productive.

College Admissions Planning List

So much to do, so little time! It’s easy to fall behind and miss important deadlines and milestones. The InLikeMe planning list can help you stay on track and be successful.

Strategic Positioning – Using Your “Wow Factor”, “Dazzle” or “Hook”

In past years, successful applicants to competitive colleges were often well-rounded high-achievers. These days there is a growing preference, especially at the most selective schools, to admit high achievers who also possess a special activity or unusual characteristic that sets them apart from other applicants. Learn how you can stand out from the pack.

Composing Your College Admission Resume

Remember the College Folder we suggested you maintain throughout high school? The file with of all your activities, awards, honors, community service hours, leadership positions, etc. Now it’s a good time to dig it out or put one together to compose your college resume. Your college resume can be a tremendous asset when you fill out applications, meet with interviewers, ask for recommendations and apply for scholarships. Learn how to build your College Admission Resume.

Acing The College Interview

A college interview is an ideal time to show that you are more than just paper credentials, essays and recommendations. Colleges value this input to corroborate their picture of you from other sources. It is also an excellent opportunity to convey your genuine interest in a particular college or university, to ask insightful questions and show your good sense of humor, maturity and interpersonal skills. With some know-how and preparation, you can ace the interview and improve your chance of admission.

Recommendations for Recommendations

Many colleges require two or three recommendation from high school teachers, coaches, guidance counselors or others who know you in an academic, extra-curricular or leadership capacity. Admissions officers rely on letters of recommendation to round out and confirm their picture of you as a candidate.

Private College Admissions Counselors: Do I Need One?

You’ve probably heard success stories about students who have hired private advisors and may be wondering if a private counselor would be a smart investment for you. A private college admissions consultant can be a great resource to provide guidance and navigational expertise.

Completing Your Application

Test scores, transcripts, recommendations and essays are all components of the all-important application package. Most schools allow you to create a private profile on their admissions web site. Prior to submitting your application for review, you can return to the school’s admissions portal (as many times as you like) to fill out the application, upload essays, etc. Many of schools even provide a handy checklist to help you monitor each step in the application process. Learn about the components of the application package.

Writing an Effective Application Essay

Application essays are a prime opportunity to stand out with well-composed essays about what makes you a truly special candidate — your passion, personality, character, personal achievements, background, special talents, sense of humor, inner resilience, writing ability as well as your reasoning for choices you have made. Colleges look for articulate, well-written, thoughtful essays providing insight into your personality, values, and goals. Get some helpful information and strategic advice about writing effective essays in a time-efficient manner.

Wisdom from Successful Applicants

Check out this advice from successful applicants:

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