There is no magic formula for getting into your dream college. It’s a lot of hard work, a splash of circumstance, a healthy dose of dedication and a dash of luck too. But all the same, here are a few things to keep in mind that may aid the process.
#1. Grades and test scores will always be the most important thing
As you will find out below, there are all sorts of little quirks that can affect a university or college application. But while all sorts of things can contribute, don’t forget that the most important part of getting into where you want to go are your exam results and test scores. They are the primary method by which you will be measured. So don’t forego your studies for anything- they will need to be of quality for you to get in.
#2. Be good
Universities and colleges will mostly focus on your grades when accepting you, but with so much competition, anything extracurricular that can help better paint a picture of who you are can go a long way. This is especially true of picking up activities that help the people around you, like community service.
Some students will take a trip to a country that is in great need, and while this is a noble cause, travel isn’t always necessary and some colleges may in fact be suspicious of a trip just a few weeks long, especially compared to the months, or even years of charity for those more local to you. It may be that you help clean up a dirty street, tutor someone, or go and visit the elderly. There is always someone in need and it will make you a better person too.
#3. Honestly express who you are
When writing application letters and essays, it’s not too difficult to go online and find pre-written text examples or structures, where you basically just fill in the gaps with personal information. This style of writing may appear slick and ‘well-written’, but colleges see hundreds, if not thousands of these. They get boring fast.
They are far more interested in reading an authentic, personal account of the sort of person you are, your experiences, passions and goals. You are also not necessarily limited by text- more and more colleges are becoming open to receiving video files, pictures and audio. You are selling yourself here, as ugly as that idea may potentially be, it’s something crucial to learn and anything you can do to make it that more effective will always be useful.
#4. But bear in mind they are looking for particular things
Once colleges have narrowed down the students they feel have the right credentials, they will start to look more closely at the differences. These can include leadership, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, a passion for learning, optimism, empathy, risk taking, grit, curiosity and perseverance.
These are to be evidenced in recommendations, your essays and extracurricular activities.
#5. Don’t take it personally
It may seem odd, since an application is all about you and how you sell yourself, but admissions officers never truly get to know who you are, no matter how great your application and grades are. They are interested in those things, obviously, but the selection process will also take things into account that you have no control over, like diversity, opportunity for revenue and the goals of the college. There are some students who are amazing in the classroom, on the sports field, have a brilliant application and do everything right but all of that doesn’t mean anything if the colleges are more interested in finding someone of a different profile.
#6. Diversity counts
Many universities are trying hard to improve the availability of their courses for a variety of types of people. Being an international student is obviously a great way to achieve that, so make sure to emphasize your background and how where you are from has impacted what you have achieved.
If you’re concerned that your dream university won’t accept you because you didn’t go to the best school, or if you don’t think your family is rich enough, or you’re not from the right place- don’t be. Any of these could be the key you need to get into your dream university.
#7. As does money
If they decide you are the right sort of person for them, financial circumstances will come into play. Now, many institutions offer monetary help or reduced costs for certain students, but the more likely you are to pay off the tuition, the better for them. Just bear it in mind when applying.
#8. As does location (kind of)
As suggested, colleges want a wide range of people to accept and educate. If you are an international student this works in your favour! Otherwise, remember that an admissions officer may prefer someone from further afield.
#9. Family connections can help, though not necessarily
Having a family member that went to your university of choice can mean admissions looks upon you favourably, but just don’t assume that your parents’ connections will get you in.
#10. Colleges want to feel loved
Admissions officers will often take ‘demonstrated interest’ into account, in which they judge how enthusiastic the student proves themselves to be. So speak openly and willingly to those at the university if you can, reply quickly to emails, try and visit the campus beforehand and of course by applying early- something universities and colleges across the world all love.