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Keep Calm and Stay In the Zone: The College Application Process

Oliver Grant, Staff Writer

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For most high school students, applying to colleges can be a drawn out process that causes a lot of stress. Most people try to get into colleges that have the best opportunities with scholarships and programs for the major they hope to pursue. However, some students may not know yet what they want to do in the future, and are looking for a college that can provide vast experiences and exposure to a variety of endeavors and programs.


Before ultimately deciding which colleges to send applications to, consider all options and make sure you know what it is that the college you are considering is looking for. Start thinking about what environment you would enjoy the most. Get to know the college and their mission and educational philosophy. Consider if you like big or small schools, if you want a more personal relationship with professors. Start ruling out colleges that don’t fit your needs or expectations and focus on a few that will fulfill your college dreams.


College competition is tough. They will look at your transcript and compare it to the average student or compare you to a student who took the initiative to take advanced classes. SAT scores also play a huge role, as well as your overall GPA. For example, for acceptance at UVA the average SAT score is a 1410, and the average GPA is a 4.23. At James Madison University, there are average SAT scores of 1200 and the average GPA there is a 3.5. Try to choose a college where you fit their criteria.


You can also email the admissions counselor at the college you are considering and ask how to increase your chances. After school activities such as clubs, music programs, honor societies, sports, and other extracurriculars can increase your chances for scholarships and being accepted into a school.It is also not just about enrolling in school activities, but proving you have shown commitment in those activities. If you have an important position in your activity, it will give colleges a better idea of the kind of leader you are. This could include, being the captain of a sports team, the president of a club, or any leadership positions. If you have a slightly lower SAT score or GPA than what is required, these activities can make up for those scores.


Recommendations from high school teachers, staff, and counselors definitely raises the chances of getting into the college of your choice. These give an honest and informed opinion of your abilities and personal qualities from professionals who have seen them first hand. Talk to your favorites of these people ahead of time, ones who know you well and where you did well in their classes. Make a list of your activities, inside and outside of school to help them write personal letters. List things you accomplished in their classes, like projects for science fair entries, to help them remember to note these in their letters. Tell the teacher you asked a personal story, like if you had a revelation and finally knew what you should do to change your life for the better. That would give the teacher better insight to who you are as a person as well as a student.


If you want to get into college, take the initiative and go the extra mile to get more information. Going on the campus to visit, talking to professors and administrators, and even applying early, can be a good idea.Talk to an advisor about the the mission of the college and the programs it has. Having this information ahead of time shows your favorite schools that they are really your top choice and that you have done research to make sure it is a good match.


Don’t stress out, and stay on top of your game. Remember it is a process, but in the end you will reach your goal.

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Keep Calm and Stay In the Zone: The College Application Process