College Admission Secrets from College Counselors
What does it take to get into your top-choice colleges? There are a number of admission myths out there and various “tips and tricks” that promise to help students gain admission to their dream schools. At IvyWise, we have access to college admission experts who know what colleges are looking for and what students can do to improve their chances of admission, and they’ve revealed some of their top admission tips for college bound students!
The IvyWise team of expert counselors is made up of former deans and directors of admission from some of the country’s top universities. They’ve been in the room where it all happens and have made the tough decisions that admissions officers are faced with today.
We’ve brought you some insider information in the past with College Admission Secrets Pt. 1: How Colleges Read Applications, College Admission Secrets Pt. 2: What Does and Doesn’t Matter on Your College Application, College Admission Secrets Pt. 3: What Parents and Students Need to Know About College Applications and Decisions, and College Admissions Secrets: How the Admissions Committee Review Process Works.
Here are some more college admission secrets they’ve revealed to help students have the best chance of being admitted to their top-choice colleges.
Your Grades Are Most Important
There are a number of application elements that colleges evaluate when making admission decisions. While “hard factors” like grades and test scores are important, “soft factors” like essays, recommendations, activities, and more paint a more complete picture of who students are and what they hope to achieve with their college education.
According to NACAC, these are the factors that colleges place the most weigh on, in order of importance.
It’s important to make good grades and take challenging courses all throughout high school, and stay true to your interests and passions. After all, colleges want students to be genuine when applying to college. Be who you are, not who you think a particular college wants you to be.
It’s Important to Start Early
The top college admissions advice that our expert college counselors give families is to start planning for college as early as possible. Colleges look at everything from 9th grade on, so it’s important for students to start taking appropriate courses, exploring their interests, and thinking about what they want out of their college education. For freshmen, college may seem far off, but there are a number of things they can do to start preparing for their admissions journey that don’t put too much pressure on them too early.
Perfect Grades and Test Scores are Not Your Ticket In
So many students apply with perfect grades and test scores thinking that makes them a shoo-in for their dream colleges. While great grades and test scores are certainly attractive, those alone will not gain you admission to your top-choice colleges. Students should focus on academic success, while also devoting time toward exploring their interests, making an impact in their community, and participating in activities that help them do both.
Neither is the Essay
Students also spend a great amount of time stressing over their college application essays. They’ll spend weeks or even months crafting the “perfect” essay, hoping it will land them in the “yes” pile. A great essay can definitely give students an edge, but the essay alone will never gain a student admission – or land them in the “no” pile. Again, there are many factors that colleges consider when evaluating applicants, and a stellar essay won’t negate the fact that a student doesn’t have the grades, courses, or demonstrated interest in a field they’re looking for. Students should use the essay to enhance their application by revealing something new about them that can’t be found anywhere else. Use the essay to provide context to the rest of your application and make you three-dimensional. Let your voice shine through.
Colleges Want Well-Rounded Classes
In the end, colleges want to build a well-rounded class made up of specialists. They want applicants who are genuine, have demonstrated an interest in a specific field of study, and have a clear vision of how they will fit into the college campus and make an impact should they be admitted.
Need more help navigating the college admissions process? Download our free admissions guide for more information on admission decisions, application options, testing, building a college list, and more!