How To Get Into College

Applying to college can feel intimidating. It’s important to follow application instructions closely and submit all materials by the deadline. Colleges want students who work hard in school and show a commitment to activities outside of the classroom. While you don’t need to join every club your school offers, participating in well-chosen extracurriculars is a positive sign.


Colleges look at your grades, test scores and academic transcripts. They want to see that you have challenged yourself and worked hard. A high GPA and a strong record of academic achievement are the most important factors in Get into college. This includes taking AP and honors classes as well as studying hard in all your classes. Many colleges also have a personal statement or essay requirement. Take the time to write a solid first draft and have trusted teachers or counselors read it over. This will help you spot any grammatical errors and get clear feedback on what needs to be improved.

Most colleges require letters of recommendation. Ask teachers who know you best to recommend your strongest qualities, such as academic ability and work ethic. They can be from core academic subjects, but also from other areas of your life such as music, writing, sports or volunteer work. Be sure to ask early in senior year so the teacher has plenty of time to compose a strong letter.


A few years ago, it was a great strategy to participate in tons of extracurricular activities, as that could be seen as a sign that you were well-rounded. Students would take every AP class, maximize their standardized test scores and join student council, yearbook club, sports teams and more to appear as the ultimate “well-rounded” candidate. However, the college admissions game has changed. While academic achievements are important, admissions committees want to see more of your unique interests and passions beyond the classroom.

Academic-oriented clubs like debate, chess and model United Nations show dedication to learning that goes beyond coursework. Artistic activities, such as painting, drawing, sculpting and graphic design, demonstrate creative thinking and vision. Even team sports, such as diving and cross country, highlight the importance of collaboration and dedication to a collective goal. Part-time work also impresses admissions committees, as it shows commitment and maturity. You can find a list of your school’s clubs and organizations on the student resources page or by doing a quick Google search. If you’re unsure of which extracurricular to pursue, try visiting a meeting and then choose one that resonates with you.

Personal Statements

A personal statement is an essay that you submit along with your application. It allows you to tell a college admissions committee your story, and it can make or break your chances of getting in. Although other parts of the application—like transcripts, test scores, and activities list—show colleges how hardworking you are, the personal statement shows them who you really are. It also helps admissions counselors evaluate whether your interests are academically-focused or more general, and whether you’ll be a good fit for their campus.

The best essays have a clear message and showcase a few key traits. They’re not fluff; they show AOs that you care about something deeply. They’re also written well. Whether your essay is about overcoming an obstacle or caring for a sibling, it’s important that the writing is clear and mature. Take a writing course to improve your skills. You can even earn college credit.

Letters Of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are a significant part of many applications. They should complement the other aspects of an application and give admissions officers a full picture of who you are and why they should admit you to their school. The letter should highlight specific observations about the applicant based on firsthand experience, and provide information not available elsewhere in the application. For example, a teacher might note that the student is poised and confident in class and is willing to take risks. Or an art teacher might mention that the student has participated in several community art shows and is comfortable sharing her work with others.

Choose recommenders who know you well, and ask them for a letter early in junior year. They’ll have more time to reflect on your skills and qualities before completing the letter. And don’t ask a teacher to write more than one letter of recommendation. Admissions officers will notice if you submit more than they request, and this can reflect negatively on your application.


Academics are the most important factor when getting into a good school. Take the coursework recommended by the schools you want to attend (especially if it’s Honors or Advanced Placement classes). Distinguish yourself in your extracurricular activities. Colleges like to see well-rounded students.