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How The College Admissions Process Works

Initial Preparation:

The first part of the college admissions process starts during your freshman year of high school.  The classes you choose will reflect largely on you during your college application process a few years later.  In general, the more academic your course load is, the better chances you’ll have of getting into a competitive university.  Advanced placement courses are also helpful.

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How much does GPA effect college acceptance?

Your grade point average will, of course, play a role here as well… quite a large one, if fact.  It’s important to understand that while many of the most competitive universities require a particular grade point average, their acceptance average may be higher.  For instance, a school may advertise a required GPA of 3.5 but the actual average GPA of accepted students may be a 3.8. For this reason, you should consider MULTIPLE schools and understand that there’s not always a formula for acceptance.  Competitive schools such as Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, and Yale receive applications from thousands of 4.0 students each year.  They can’t accept everyone.  Do your best, diversify your prospects and understand that you can always transfer in later. 

What exams do I need for college?  ACT or SAT?

Your SATs an ACTs are important.  Find out which test is required by your school of interest.  Take pre-tests where available to ensure your best possible performance.  Pre-SATs are offered in some places as early as 8th grade.  Some schools also require the SAT II.  In general, these exams are only applicable during the freshman admission process.   They don’t generally apply to transfer students.  If you are planning to attend a junior college or community college, you will not likely need to take either exam.  Check with your schools of interest to find out what you’ll need.

College Application Essays:

You may want to begin researching potential essay topics during the summer between junior and senior year.  A few essay topics ideas to consider include:

  • Write about a major experience in your life that has influenced who you are
  • Write about a local, national, or international issue that is of great importance to you.
  • Write about a fictional character or historical person that has influenced you.
  • Write about a time period in your life that has redefined your ideals about life and made you ‘who you are’.

What if I don’t get into college?

If you didn’t perform well enough in high school in order to get into college, don’t fret.  It’s not the end of the road.  Many successful women and men began their education at a community college or technical school.  Stay open-minded and remember that there are still many roads to success.  If you decide to continue with your dream to finish college, but don’t have the grades to start at a University, find a technical or community college near you.   The transfer process generally begins after your general education is completed (after 2 years).  At that point, it’s as if your high school grades NEVER HAPPENED.  Your transfer application process will only take your college grades into account.  So WORK HARD and follow these study tips!