There’s no way around it – college admissions are competitive. If they weren’t, earning a college degree would not be meaningful or at all indicative of a person’s intellectual abilities. That being said, there are some aspects of the college admissions process that incite more competition than others. One in particular is the idea of not whether a student gets into college, but where.
Some colleges (the Ivy League schools, Stanford, MIT, etc.) carry a level of prestige that makes people assume that attending a “good” college means attending one of these colleges. The truth is that there are many more “good” colleges than the 7 or 8 you can name off the top of your head. A “good” college means something different to everyone, depending on what they want out of their college experience. However, if you are interested in pursuing admission to one of these highly selective universities, there are some things to keep in mind – the most important of which is that admission to these schools is EXTREMELY competitive. The series of articles on the Huffington Post entitled “Who Gets Into Harvard” is a great resource for more information on this topic.
Top Grades Only
To gain admission to Ivy League and other highly selective schools, it’s not enough to be among the top of your class; you must be THE top student in your class. Straight A’s aren’t enough, unless you’re getting those A’s in every AP class and taking the most rigorous curriculum your school has to offer. (Remember this is only for students seeking admission to highly selective schools. I promise there are plenty of other “good” schools that will be impressed with your good grades even if you weren’t enrolled in every AP class available.)
Perfect Test Scores
Grades are just the beginning. Your test scores have to be nearly or actually perfect. For most schools, you might be able to make up for lower test scores with some interesting extra-curricular activities and a standout GPA, but not for the highly selective schools. You’ll need to ace your standardized tests in addition to maintaining a top-ranking GPA.
Achievement in Extra-Curricular Activities
Extra-curricular activities also need to go above and beyond. Similar to those at less selective schools, the admissions officers at highly selective schools are more interested in depth than breadth when it comes to evaluating extra-curricular activities. This means that they would rather see students stick with and excel in a few activities as opposed to students who have a lengthy list of activities in which they only sort of participate. The major difference for the highly selective schools is that they don’t want to see that students have simply participated, they want to see students who have taken on top leadership roles, reached the pinnacle rank in an organization, or achieved commendations for their work.
Admission to these schools requires an immense amount of hard work and dedication, but it is possible! With a strategic plan to navigate the road to admissions, you could be on your way to the college of your dreams! To talk with a Sacramento college counselor about the college admissions process at highly selective universities, please call (916) 905-2466 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit our website for more information about college admissions planning.