College Admissions: What You Need To Know

Zen College Life

Louise Baker from Zen College Life weighs
in on college admissions

Today's blog post comes from Louise Baker at Zen College Life. Zen College Life is a leading source for college and degree information online. Their writing has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, on MSN, About.com, The Consumerist, and many other publications and websites.

Going to college can open up a world of opportunities, both personally and professionally. Getting into college, however, has gotten progressively harder in recent years as more and more high school students have realized that attending college can give them the tools for lifelong success that they need. Below are the tips that you need to know, as you navigate the college admissions landscape.

Although you may be tempted to tag along with your high school buddies, as they road trip to the colleges that have the best parties in your area, it is important to do your own research on the schools that you want to attend. Unless you are confident that you want to attend a school, you will not be able to put together an application that convinces a college's admissions offices that you truly want to be at that university. Start by brainstorming the types of degree programs you are interested in and the geographic area you are willing to move to for college. Then begin visiting schools to narrow down factors like the size of the school and type of campus.

Once you have a list of five to seven schools that you would be okay with attending, make sure that among them is at least one or two safety schools. These should be schools that, based upon your SAT I and SAT II scores and your grades you are statistically likely to be admitted to for the fall semester. Hopefully, you will get into several of your choice colleges, but it is important that you have at least one school to attend in the fall. Remember, you can always transfer to another school later on!

Many colleges accept the common application, which means that you only need to write one essay and put together one package of information. Be careful though, as some schools will require supplemental statements. Sending one to the wrong school can mean being disqualified by both schools! Check the schools' requirements for letters of recommendation and make sure that your teachers write yours and send them in well in advance of their due dates so your application is not held up. Call the admissions office after your teachers notify you that they have sent them to confirm the schools' receipt.

Even if you are fairly confident that a school will accept you, you should still go ahead and ask for an interview. This is a time to show off what makes you special, which may be hard for an admissions counselor to see on your paper application. Show up in a suit or other nice outfit and be ready to discuss your favorite books.

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