10 Things to Know About Getting into Your Dream College

Trying to find a way to get into the college you desire is a process every high school student thinks about. From test scores to crafting the perfect personal essay, there are a lot of things to consider. Here is a list of the top ten things you should know about getting into your top choice school.

1. Do Research

Research your dream college. This means research your major, pay attention to student retention rates, program opportunities, and more. Maybe you will find out that they have a beautiful campus, but if their academic programs are lacking and it doesn’t offer a lot of extracurriculars, it may not be the right college for you.

2. College Counselors Are Your Allies

If you’re uncertain what the college you want to apply for is looking for in a student, meet with a college counselor. Their entire profession is built around knowing what certain schools are looking for; they’re also there to help you craft the best application possible.

3. Test Scores Still Matter

It’s true that many colleges are looking past test scores during the admissions process, but it’s by no means optional for you. Your dream college may care about your test scores, so focus on getting great test scores.

4. Hobbies are Helpful

The Princeton Review states that hobbies can be helpful when trying to get into any college. Along with building key skills, hobbies can round out your application and even serve as the main subject of your personal essay.

5. Focus on a Four-Year Plan

Have a four-year plan for college laid out prior to enrolling; this will provide you a path forward in college. Think about the profession you want to have, then begin preparing for pursuing it at your dream college. Think about extracurriculars, internships, and more that can go along with your course work.

6. Take Time with Your Personal Essay

There are some schools that don’t require a personal essay, but chances are that your dream college does require one. Take your time with your personal essay; focus on what you want to do in life, or a personal experience, then write about that. Make sure your essay is cohesive and to the point as well.

7. Choose Your Extracurricular Activities Carefully

Extracurricular activities add weight to your application when applying, but only if you can demonstrate your specialty in that area, as the Huffington Post states. Schools by and large are looking for students who specialize because it shows a pattern of passion and commitment to one particular field.

8. Take AP Courses Only if You Can Handle the Workload

AP courses are a huge benefit, but U.S. News and World Report advises that you only take advanced courses in subjects that interest you.

AP courses tend to have heavier course loads, they take up more time, and they can be stressful. Taking too many courses can result in lower grades and a lower GPA. That’s why you should only choose the subjects you think you can handle.

9. Visit College Campuses

Visit the campus. No amount of web research will tell you if that college has the atmosphere that you’re looking for or indeed has everything that you need. Only a visit to the campus, along with a guided tour, can do that. While you’re at it, visit a few, not just one; you might be surprised to find that a second-choice school is a better fit for you.

10. Pace Yourself

Getting into your dream college is a marathon, not a sprint. Colleges are looking at the totality of your high school years. Cramming hobbies, extracurriculars, and AP courses during your senior year isn’t helpful. Relax and do your best work without worrying so much about college admissions.

Preparing for college can be stressful, but remember, it’s about your future. The above list will help you craft your best application and may even help you find a new dream college. Good luck.10 Things to Know About Getting into Your Dream College.

Elizabeth Heron is an HR manager with a particular interest in employee motivation and customer engagement. Her most recent online project is iResumeCoverLetter.com, a site which contains resume and cover letters examples, and also career&education-related tips and advice.


4 Comments on “10 Things to Know About Getting into Your Dream College

  1. Completely agree with the last point! I’ve met too many people who try to stuff their admissions files at the last minute. They think that an extra LOR from a teacher they don’t have a connection with or an extra AP course they don’t care for will help them. It’s difficult getting people out of that mindset though!

    • Yes. I saw it way too many time as well when I was an admission professional reading and making decisions on applications. Most admission professionals can see right through students trying to “pad” their application in hopes of getting admitted.

  2. Great tips, Jessica! Before entering my college, I so embodied some councils in life. Each student wants to get into an excellent college, which will meet all his wishes. I also conducted a small study between the topic of colleges in which I would like to get. In colleges that were in my city, I even went on open days. As you said in the college of my dreams, it was also necessary to write a personal essay. And I had to look for a lot of information to write an excellent paper. In general, as my mother said when choosing a college, you need to listen to your heart. Choose not the “prestigious” college, and not the one that all your friends go to, stop on the one to which you think you will be better off getting a good education!

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