myUsearch blog

Honest college information — choose, apply, get into and pay for college.

Gear Up to Get into College

March 27, 2012 By: Category: Admissions insider, Get into College

You’ve taken your PSATs, worked hard to get your grades to where you want them to be, and built a strong resume of extracurricular activities. It’s time to get into college! That’s exciting, but a little intimidating too, right? Simply follow these easy steps, and you’ll be well on your way to your dream college:

Photo by jrossl

  1. Start building a stronger vocabulary. This is the most important thing you can do to boost your SAT and ACT scores. You can use a book like 500 Key Words for the SAT, and How to Remember Them Forever! by Charles Gulotta, or try the vocabulary videos on Whichever tool you use, get started and stick with it in the months ahead.
  2. Build stronger ties to the people who will write your letters of recommendation. Identify some potential referrers and invest some time showing them that you merit their support. You may call this “brown-nosing” or “sucking up,” but the earlier you can cultivate ties, the better the recommendations you will get.
  3. Write a few drafts of different admissions essays. Sure, the deadline for these essays is still far away. But if you start writing some drafts now, you can eliminate the topics that just don’t work out when you start to write. And if topics do work out well when you write a first draft, you will then have a lot of time to fine-tune them and produce essays that show what you can really do.
  4. Take admissions tours at several colleges, even if they are schools where you might not apply. When you take admissions tours, you get a better idea of the questions that you should ask when you take tours of the colleges that really “count” for you. You also start to develop your instincts about what “feels good” about different campuses, and what “feels bad.” All those insights can lead you to a better college choice.
  5. Have the “money talk” with your parents now. It’s funny, but some families avoid talking about college finances until quite late in the admissions process. And the earlier you talk about how you will pay for college, the better. If you will have to take loans or Pell Grants, for example, you should plan for that early. If your parents have saved money and don’t want to limit your college choice, you should know that too. Have that discussion now.
  6. Review your complete “package” with some smart people. They could be guidance counselors, teachers, and friends of your family - or your minister, rabbi or imam. Sit down and go over your grades, test scores, volunteering, and other factors colleges will consider.  You could get some great, objective advice that can help you get into your college choice.