The college application process has changed drastically in the past 10 years. And even more so in the past 2 years. Colleges seek to choose the best applicants, but it’s more than just grades. Many high schools were generous with grades during the pandemic, so higher GPAs are the norm. As a result, colleges now place more deciding weight on subjective things like passion, goals, and extra-curricular activities.
Skip the Test Scores
Skip the test scores? How scandalous! Yet some colleges are now test-optional. Why? Because so many applicants earn a 4.0 or higher, colleges are looking for more ways to find students that are the best fit for their student body rather than those with the most academic rigor.
There is an exception, though. DO include them if they put them in the top 25% of those that were accepted the previous years because you may be a candidate for merit-based aid. Private colleges are using SAT and ACT scores as ways to select the students they really want to attract. (This in addition to your extracurricular activity and essay.)
If you’re unsure how to tell if your test scores ranked in the top 25% at any given school, we can help! It’s part of our secret sauce.
This puts an even greater weight on your admissions essay and extra-curricular activity. The better personal storyteller you are, the easier it may be to get into your college of choice. Share your essay, personal statement, or highlight your high school community service hours in a compelling way so colleges can see the real you — your drive, your passion, and your vision for the future.
Brush Up Your Online Presence
Today’s high school students have a greater global awareness than ever before. (Thank you, internet!) These students start non-profits, invent things to help third world communities, and build vast audiences through social media and blogging. These influencers and world-changers are exactly the students colleges are looking for.
On the flip side, college admissions chances can fizzle if your social media presence doesn’t live up to their standards. Assume an admissions counselor will Google you. If they find anything objectionable, wave that school goodbye. Take some time to browse all your online accounts and make sure your content accurately represents you and lines up with your goals and career path.
Complete the Common Application
It used to be that a student could apply to just a handful of schools and be confident at least one college would accept them. But in today’s college application process, most schools turn to the Common Application. You fill this out once and can submit it to over 900 schools. (You still have to customize your college essay and extra deliverables — read each college’s guidelines carefully!) This simplifies the process, allows you to apply to many schools, and gives you a much better chance of being accepted in today’s highly competitive process.
Keep in mind that a simple process also means more applicants. Don’t forget about application fees. More application means more application fees. If you can, get a few fee waivers.
Double Check Deadlines
While in some ways the college application process has gotten easier, the competition has also become more fierce. Take the time to find a college that’s a great fit for you. Research and find the few that resonate and have all the things you’ve been dreaming about and focus your attention on them. You have no experience with this, and it is likely your parents are in the same situation. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your school counselor may have some good advice or you may choose to hire a consultant. And you can contact us! Helping students succeed is our passion and we do it every single day.