STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO COLLEGE ADMISSIONS

Student/Family and Counselor Interview

Harvard University Harvard University
 
The process begins with a conversation, usually in the presence of parents, that explores the student's attitudes, achievements, and aspirations. The counselor will anaylze the student's transcript and test scores, and introduce informal assessments that define parameters of college search.

Establish a timeline with clear deadlines.

The process should include different phases for research and allow plenty of time to compile a portfolio of written statements and other elements that can be used to respond to requirements of each application. 

UCLA University of California, Los Angeles

The counseling process will reveal answers to some big questions:

Where should I apply?

The counselor will suggest appropriate colleges for the student to research and assist in narrowing the list to about ten best-fit colleges where the student will file applications.

The applicant's stats should fall comfortably in the mid-50% range of admitted students at most colleges on the final list and include at least two where the student can be confident of gaining admission. 

Using guided exercises, the student will write out personal criteria and systematically evaluate each school on list, considering academic, financial, social, and career goals. 

Evergreen State College Evergreen State College

A practical strategy is to build the list from the bottom up, that is, first identify programs of interest at colleges where the student is likely to be accepted, and later move up the selectivity scale. The applications for target and safety schools will be completed first. Then, if time and energy remain, shoot for the stars with a few more competitive colleges—if the student is capable of accepting the outcome without making it a referendum on self-worth.

What are my chances of admission?

The admitted student profile is a quick statistical portrait reflecting GPA and course rigor, class ranking and SAT scores. The counselor will lead the family in utilizing effective tools assembled on this website.

CollegeData hosts student bloggers who share their outcomes and insights on the application process. Reviewing the archives of these applicant files is a good way to measure yourself against the competition. Scattergrams, found on CollegeData and elsewhere, also compare individuals to the applicant pool.

How can I stand out in the field of applicants?

UCSB University of California, Santa Barbara

Put in the time and energy to write your applications carefully.

Identify a unifying theme that is supported by recommendations and extracurricular activities. Create an easy-to-remember summary of your credentials. 

Each application is a composite: its elements should synchronize, but not repeat. Together the essays and short answers reiterate the central truth of who you are, what you hope to gain from attending this particular college, and what you will add to the campus culture.

Tish is a professional editor who has helped dozens of students create memorable self-portraits and win admission to selective schools.

Are my essays engaging? revealing? well crafted?

University of Puget Sound University of Puget Sound

They had better be! You will be evaluated on this writing, so give it your all and get some help to make the best case for yourself.

The personal statement should reveal what makes you special: your interests, values, accomplishments, and aspirations. 

Brainstorm, draft, let rest, read, revise, repeat.