The College Admissions Process

Don't get frustrated by the complexities and difficulties of the college admissions process. Read on to increase your understanding of how colleges select students for admission and how you can improve your chances.

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Deciding to attend a college or university is only the first step of a long process.

Completing the application process may be intimidating for those who do not know what they want to study, where they want to attend, or whether or not their grade point average and standardized test scores are sufficient for admission to their desired schools. College admissions can be highly competitive, but understanding the process may make the application season much less stressful.

The first step in the admissions process it to choose which schools to apply. Generally speaking, the more schools a student applies to, the greater the chance of receiving at least one acceptance letter. A student may consider applying to 6 different schools. Two of those schools should be ideal, meaning both comfortable and challenging. The next two applications should be a bit more ambitious, meaning the applicant will not know for certain whether or not they qualify for admission. These schools should be competitive and challenging. The final two applications should be 'safe,' meaning admission is all but certain. This approach to college applications improves a student's chances of enrolling in the most appropriate college or university available.

Once a student has chosen to which schools to apply to, they should find school-specific admissions information, including any special requirements, such as completing an essay or providing letters or recommendation. Students should also note whether to apply by mail or over the Internet and mark all application deadlines on a calendar. This information can be gathered by visiting a specific school's website or by requesting it by mail.

While specific admissions requirements may vary from one institution to the next, there are certain requirements that are quite common. Students are often required to submit official transcripts, provide SAT or ACT scores, and note any extracurricular activities or clubs. Students may not always know what makes one applicant more desirable than the other, but working to improve their grades, practicing to perform well on standardized tests, and participating in school or community-based activities may improve the overall impression they make on college admissions counselors.

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