Take any game: it comes with rules and directions to follow. There is a start and a finish, an allotted amount of time to play within, and a team or player who wins or loses. If you do not follow the rules, you are not allowed to continue to play and there may be penalties.
These same rules and directions apply to the College Admissions Process. There is a start and a finish, an allotted amount of time to “play” within, and a student who wins or loses. If that student does not follow the rules of the College Admissions game, she or he is not allowed to play, and is certainly not allowed to cross the finish line of admission and gain entrance into the college or university.
All too often, students feel daunted by this game. Many feel that they have already drawn the “Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200” card and they limit their choices (and thus their chances) of success before even stepping foot in the arena.
How can a student stack the odds in favor of his or her success? In a few simple steps.
Begin Early and take your time: Junior year, begin to research schools and programs of interest, cost of attendance and scholarships; focus on maintaining a good GPA, find extracurricular activities that excite and inspire you, practice taking the SAT and ACT, then take it multiple times.
Apply Early: with the school research completed in Junior year, this leaves the summer before senior year as a prime time to work on college applications. Even if a school does not accept applications before a certain date in the fall, the student can begin to work on his / her college application essay at this time.
Organize: create a calendar that is just for college related actions (due dates for applications, test dates, notice dates and more.)
Make Contact: once your applications have been submitted, contact the schools to make sure that everything has been turned in successfully and that your application is not incomplete in some way. Always be gracious and patient when making contact with a school - the admissions office will remember this!