alexis-85The best metaphor I can provide to you for the college application process is that of building a car…So where do you start? Before anything you need to establish your WHEELS: Grades & Standardized Tests. Your grades are a MAJOR factor on whether or not you are admitted to a certain school. Colleges also want to see that you’ve challenged yourself during high school. An admissions officer would love to see that you’ve earned an “A+” in Basic Health, but would be more impressed with a “B+” from an AP Biology course. Don’t be afraid to load up on IB and AP classes- they can earn you college credit!

Your standardized tests (SATs & ACTs) play a big role in the college application world. Take BOTH tests if possible; many students find that they score significantly higher on one particular test. SAT IIs are also required by many schools now a days. If possible, take advantage of College Board and ACT waivers that allow you to take their tests for FREE!

You have set up your wheels, now work on your BODY: Extracurricular activities and awards. Extracurricular activities can range from volunteering at the local shelter to being an all-star varsity baseball player at your school. Make sure that whatever you decide to do, it is an earnest effort on your part to better your community/school/self.

Set up a long-lasting commitment with an organization. Colleges would rather see only a few extracurricular activities that you’ve attended to for YEARS than a thousand “One-Day-Only” activities on your application. Awards and scholarships allow colleges to pinpoint ways in which you stand out from other applicants. Won 1st place in a Science Fair? Slap that onto your application!

Now that you have your wheels set and your body ready, all you need is your steering wheel. Your STEERING WHEEL: College essays might be the scariest part of the entire process. Your essays should be worked on for MONTHS. Get your friends and teachers to edit and read for feedback. Your personal statements are different from traditional writing assignments in that you’re writing to reveal something about YOURSELF. This is your ONE chance to tell an admissions officer why you belong at their school, so spill it on that word document!

Now that you’ve built your car, you’re ready to steer your way into your dream school’s parking lot. ;D. Abide by these suggestions and you’ll make the right choice!

1. Do NOT pick a college based on the price tag.

a. While a state school might seem cheaper, many private schools around the country end up being cheaper for many students as they have larger funding pools to draw from for grants and scholarships.

2. Make reasonable choices.

a. Don’t bet on having a secure spot at Harvard even if you have perfect SAT scores. No applicant can ever be 100{53c6eff5ce19621f7316832cfedf08caab022021f1679c62c3f44b8900ceaf72} sure they’ll get into any school. Pick 2 schools you are almost SURE you will get into, 2 you MIGHT have a chance in getting into, and another 2 that are REACH schools for you.

3. If you’re ANY kind of minority make use of it.

a. There are TONS of programs that want to help underrepresented students in college campuses be successful. Programs like QuestBridge ( and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ( have ABSOLUTELY AMAZING programs that may make your dream of attending a top-tier school for FREE a reality.

Dream big!

With hopes & dreams intact,