What can high school seniors do to enhance their chances of admission?

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Our counselors answered:

What can high school seniors do to enhance their chances of admission?

Rod Bugarin
Former Admissions Officer Columbia, Brown, and Wesleyan University

What can high school seniors do to enhance their chances of admission?

Here is my video response to the question.

Vanessa Roth
Founder & Director Scholar's Station

Get credit for visiting a campus!

Colleges keep track of students who have “demonstrated an interest” in their school and many use this as a “tipping factor” in admissions. So even if you are going to have friends show you around when you visit, it’s a good idea to check in at the admissions office. Call ahead to see if you can make an appointment to meet with an admissions officer. Ask admissions officers for their business cards so that you can contact them with questions as you are going through the process. Remember, they want to help you and make you fall in love with their school. They are as excited about the process as you are!

Amy Foley

Do Your Homework

There is no magic trick to gaining admission. To increase your chances, do your homework… both in the classroom and out. Turn in assignments on time, keep working hard, and stave off a killer case of senioritis. We consider the senior year to be one of the most important. Do the research when seeking colleges to which you’ll apply. Find their application deadlines, and meet them. Find their freshman profiles, and see if you align statistically. And visit, to show that your interest is sincere and to be sure that we’re all that you hoped we’d be.

Yolanda Spiva
Executive Director Project GRAD Atlanta, Inc.

Variety is the Spice of Life When it Comes to College Admissions

High school seniors can increase their chances of college admissions by demonstrating the diversity of their high school experiences within their applications. It is a misconception that colleges simply want to enroll straight 'A' students. Instead, colleges are actually interested in students who are themselves, interesting, and will contribute to the diversity and vivacity of the campus community. As a result, colleges actually seek students whom they believe will be active, involved, and successful on their campuses--academically, socially, civically, athletically, and politically. So while your transcript and SAT scores will certainly be considered, be sure to include other interesting things about you that will create a more holistic picture of why you'd be a fit for the institution.

Mary Ann Willis

You Snooze . . . You Lose

Meet deadlines–from your counselor, the testing companies and your college choices. Follow procedures–all of them. If you need specific tests, take them. Don’t wait to write essays, and make sure the work produced is your work. When you have an opportunity to connect with a college, take it (visiting a rep at your school, going to a college fair or evening program in your area and/or visiting a college). Do your homework–concentrate on places that will be good matches for you. There are thousands of choices. The real trick is ferreting out good matches for you . . . and, by the way, nearly seven out of ten applications get a yes answer.

Joanne Levy-Prewitt

Convince the admissions personnel that you will be an asset

Many colleges ask students to write supplemental essays explaining their reasons for applying, and a well-researched, well-written supplemental essay will not only impress college admissions personnel, it will also help students determine if the college meets their needs. Seniors should read college websites and learn about majors, programs, social organizations, academic or graduation requirements, housing and more. The supplemental essays are a great opportunity for students to convey their enthusiasm for the college while also convincing colleges that they will contribute actively to the community. And that’s exactly what an admissions officer wants to know.

Ellen erichards@ellened.com
Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

Tips for high school seniors for academic and personal success in college

As the school year winds down, high school seniors across the country are ramping up for their last summer at home, and, more importantly, their last summer to enjoy the convenience of living with mom and dad. No curfew! No one to report to! But, also, no one to fill the void and offer the guidance that parents have. Here are a few tips to learn and live by; well before the shock of the real world of college hits. These tips help with the adjustment of having to do the wash and pay the bills - and go to class. Helpful if you’re moving across the country or just across town. Cleaning The number one, infamous incompetence of new college students is general tindyness. You'll get to school, put your clothes in the closet and drawers and that might be the only time they ever see the inside of that closet. The hallways and bathrooms may be cleaned by the janitor, but your room is your responsibility and you need to maintain a semblance of order. Beyond just picking up clothes, you also need to clean up spills, vacuum, and wipe down counters and desks. It is important to maintain a clean room for personal safety and sanity. If you happen to have a roommate, establish on the first day a cleaning schedule and stick to it, so that one person does not feel like they are always the person doing all the work. Take a quick trip to the store and pick up some Clorox GreenWorks Spray and a roll of paper towels and there isn't any mess you can't tackle. Driving Using public transportation, riding a bike, and walking are great ways to conserve money and help the environment, but when a time arrises that you may not have one of those options, you're going to wish you had a drivers license. Though you might not need to drive a lot once you are on campus, it is good to have a drivers license before starting school and it is better to learn while you're at home, and in familiar settings. Having a license in the city might not seem necessary, but if you and your friends want to take a weekend road trip or you get an internship interview, it is better to be prepared. It is also good to be able to volunteer as a designated driver if needed at a party. At a certain point in your life you are probably going to want to know how to drive; now’s a better time than after graduation, when you’re applying for jobs and possibly moving to a city without friends or public transportation. Paying With your newfound freedom come all new costs. Chances are, you’ll be the one responsible for picking up the bill for those late night White Castles, or the pizza you ordered while studying, or that magazine you just had to have. It is important to learn how to do the basics of budgeting like how to write a check, balance a checkbook, and how to pay bills is vital to learning before setting off on your own. It’s time to figure out the mechanics of paying for your life, from online bill payment to keeping up with your pricey cell phone plan. Even if your parents are generously covering many costs for you, it’s good to know how to manage your money, because you’ll have to eventually. You don’t want to be the 24-year-old who doesn’t know how to write a check, so start practicing. And, no, you don't have to use cursive. Laundry Never done your own laundry? You aren't alone. But now that you're on your own, doing laundry is your responsibility, so if you really want to wear your special vintage replica jersey to the big game this weekend, you're going to have to wash the mashed potatoes from two weeks ago off of it. That’s right, it’s time to start learning how to pre-treat your stained clothes (a little something called Spray ’n Wash), and then separate whites from colors, and what water temperature to wash your wearables in. Learning how to do laundry is simple - a lot of instructions can be found on the tag of your clothes - is it machine washable? Can it be put in the drier? Also important is to learn how to iron. Ask the person in charge of ironing at your house (if that is you, good job!) to show you how to pass an iron over those dress pants or make sure that collar will lay flat. Now is also a good time to learn how to sew on a loose button, and if you're feeling adventurous, take a stab at hemming. Networking Think you’ll be looking for a summer job or an internship after your first year? Start looking early and start making contacts at school that you might be able to call later. Beyond making friends with the Trustee's daughter, ensure that you have positive relationships with your professors and Academic Advisors. If there is a Career Center on campus, visit early in the semester and learn how to make a professional-style resume and start compiling a list of things about yourself that would fit on a resume and try putting them together. You might be surprised how quickly it becomes overwhelming to find a job on your own, so keep your resume concise and use your networking contacts to find the perfect job for your first summer, and let your friends work the ice cream stand. so start it now. Time Management Skipping class is easy in college. So is staying up late. And sleeping in. And skipping breakfast and lunch and going straight for a liquid dinner. But take this simple piece of advice: estimate how much your yearly tuition costs are and divide that by the number of hours of classes you are taking. So now, every time you think about skipping class, think about throwing away $250. Is that extra 45 minutes of sleep worth it? I didn't think so. Spending Learn, read, and repeat: a credit card is not an unlimited allowance. College might be the first time you’ve had your own credit card, or at least free reign over a credit card - and it's accompanying bill. You might think you would never be one of those people who would start charging out of control, but the spending can add up quicker than you’d expect. Take the time to read the fine print, as boring as it is, and ask questions when you get your card. You have to understand how it works - what your limit is, if you can use it out of the country, and what happens if you overcharge. And check your balance online. Regularly. Your wallet, and your future credit score, will thank you. Writing You might have breezed through AP English Lit by quoting Sparknotes and wrote your final US Government paper with Wikipedia as your only source, but that will not work in college. Before papers start piling up, and they will, you need to make sure that you know how to write a proper research paper. Get acquainted with the campus library and how to put together a proper bibliography, MLA style. Not everything can be found on the internet, so you need to figure out how to find and cite research materials. A great resource is Google Scholar, where you can find full academic papers. But be smart - your professor will probably notice immediately if you try to pass one of those papers off as your own. Friendships Some of the best friendships can be founded in college - friendships that can, and will, carry through the remainder of your life. But you have to take into consideration that while making friends is an important part of the college experience, you also need to stay in college, so skipping class with friends may not always be the best idea. Use good judgement and surround yourself with people who are positive influences and you can still have fun with! Compromise In college you’ll find yourself having to share things you never did before, with people who have different lifestyles and habits and who you might not have chosen as roommates. Shared bathrooms, shared common areas, shared storage areas, and shared eating areas bring the necessity of compromise. Compromise is key when it comes to establishing rules and respect of other's belongings and space, because even the best of friendships can be seriously strained by choosing to live together.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Tasks for Seniors

Work hard to get strong grades as they will be provided by your high school to colleges both via the mid-year report (added to your application files) and via the required final transcript. Write your essays ahead of time so that you can revise them. Choose your recommenders carefully and ask politely for the recommendations way in advance of deadlines.

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

show strong interests to colleges

high school seniors may consider college visits and contact the college other than the admissions office for participanting in sports and other activities. I also suggest the students to work on applications, especially the essay for admissions. if financial aid applications also requrie essay, students should accomplish the tasks during the summer.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Stacking the Deck

By senior year students would be wise to have all their ducks in a row. Application completed and submitted as soon as possible, interview scheduled and done, campus visit made, recommendations requested, FAFSA started are all critical aspects in the admission process. Plus there are thank you letters to write to your references and anyone you've met on campus. If you have timed everything right, you won't be scrambling at the last minute to make a deadline. You've demonstrated your interest, you've written a memorable essay, your interview went well, your grades and scores are what they are. Take a breath and let the waiting begin.