How Could They Say No?!
Here are the basics for those of you just starting your search.
Whether you’re applying to an Ivy League, a state university or your local community college, you can present yourself in the most positive light by following these simple suggestions.
Pay attention to your classes
If you’re not already in them now, enroll in honors and Advanced Placement classes next year. Honors and AP classes suggest to admissions officers that you are interested in academically challenging yourself, and that you’re self-motivated. Many colleges (and scholarship evaluation boards) “weigh” your GPA. This system allows students to have a GPA higher than 4.0 and rewards those who push their limits.
Get a letter of recommendation
A letter of recommendation from a school official is usually required for collegiate applications. Start thinking now of a staff or faculty member who will give you a glowing recommendation.
Some students are more comfortable asking a teacher they’re acquainted with on a personal level, like a tutor or extracurricular activity sponsor. That’s fine.
Examine your life experience
“Life experience” is a catch-all term for school, work and hobbies. If you’re a National Merit Scholar, mention it. If you’re head cashier at your job, put it on your application. Do you like to read? Talk about a book that you’ve read recently and why it influenced you. Are you president of your local Kite Flying Consortium? Talk about what your responsibilities are, and what it has taught you.
If you haven’t presented the facts you want reviewed in your application, how will those facts ever become known? Everything you’ve done gives you more experience and makes you “well-rounded.” Choose personal highlights that you’re proud to mention to illustrate who you are.
Get some extra credit
Perhaps you’re not making the 4.0 GPA you’d like to have. Maybe you’re not a “hobby person.” What if your favorite teacher moves your senior year? Relax...all is not lost. Here are a few other things colleges consider.
• Extracurricular activities
Whether you’re a third-string running back or the first chair flutist for you high school ensemble, if you’re doing something school-related, keep it up. Service club membership is another great idea.
Admissions boards notice when students demonstrate school loyalty. If you’re willing to go the extra mile for your high school, whether you pick litter off the campus, stay for long practice sessions or prepare complicated solos, you’re a safe bet to continue contributing to the community in college.
• Volunteer work
Even if you have below-average grades, don’t play sports or have an artistic talent, you can do volunteer work. When you donate your time, you’re doing something that helps not just your school, but also your world.
Most nonprofit organizations have a volunteer division. Popular choices are the Red Cross, The Salvation Army and the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Many nursing homes, churches, synagogues, police and fire departments and child-care facilities welcome volunteers.
THE ADMISSIONS INTERVIEW
Besides a paper or online application, a college may require you to have an interview. Some interviews will be held at the college; others will be done by local alumni. Follow these tips when you interview.
Do dress well and be well-mannered
If you look sharp and act polite to your interviewer, you’re halfway there.
Do answer questions as honestly and completely as possible
You might never have thought about what kind of animal you would be, and that’s OK. Interview questions that catch you off guard show how you react under pressure.
Do ask questions
Your interviewer is a source of knowledge about your school. If you’ve got questions, now is the time to ask.
Don’t waste your or the admission staff’s time
If you don’t think a school would be an OK match, don’t arrange an interview. Even your “safety” schools should be places you wouldn’t mind attending.
Don’t embellish your accomplishments, and never make things up
If your interviewer thinks you’re stretching the truth, it reflects badly on you. If your interviewer believes you, you’ll be expected to repeat those accomplishments.
Don’t ever assume you have no chance
You can never tell what will happen when you apply, so don’t let anyone dissuade you from applying to the college of your dreams.
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