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Suggested Strategies for Getting Into College

Please see the article in the Seattle Times by Whitman College's President, George s. Bridges, May 2007 entitled: Choosing The Right College: getting to the heart of the matter.

Be Challenged

Take challenging courses throughout your high school career, honors and advanced placement whenever possible.

  • Take courses beyond the minimum requirements, this makes you competitive, rather than just eligible.
  • Don’t ease off in your senior year.
  • Enroll in summer school to bring up low grades in certain classes.
  • Participate in special programs for enrichment such as internship, mock trial, etc.
  • Take college level courses (i.e. concurrent enrollment wither via dual enrollment, AP courses, or courses at BPCC/LSUS)

Develop Your Sparkle Points

  • Colleges want quality, not quantity. Don’t join a lot of clubs to impress colleges, but instead have depth. They look for commitment, leadership and passion.
  • If you have a REAL talent, let colleges know about it (send a tape of your musical talent, a portfolio of your artwork, a photograph of a hobby, etc.)
  • Show that you are unique and have something to offer to the college community.


  • Link Plan to take the  PSAT in October of your sophomre and junior years. It is only given one time each year in Oct. Take the SAT and/or ACT in the spring of your junior year and repeat it in October of your senior year, if you are not satisfied with your first scores.

Apply to a variety of colleges in respect to their selectivity

  • Generally, apply to 1-2 “reach” schools, 2-3  “good chance” schools, and 3-4 schools that you feel confident in getting into. For a  back-up, apply to a community college. These choices will be impacted by your finances, profile, and desired characteristics in schools.
  • Don’t get your heart set on just one college, there are many that will be a good fit; apply to several colleges all of which you would be happy to attend.

Applying Early Decision, Early Action or Single Choice Early Action

  • If you definitely want to attend a certain college, and you feel you are a strong candidate, you might want to apply Early Decision as your chances of getting accepted are generally improved. Remember it is binding and you can not compare financial aid packages.
  • Apply Early Action if there are a number of colleges you would like to attend are organized enough to apply at these early dates. This means you hear earlier but if accepted, they are not binding.
  • Single choice Early Action is a non-binding Early Decision where the student is prohibited from applying either Early Decision or Early Action to other colleges, but may apply regular admission anywhere else. Students are not bound to attend the Single Choice Early Action school if they are accepted.


  • Take advantage of having an interview if the college recommends one. It gives you a chance to learn more about the school and to show the school that you are truly interested. Be ready with questions and know that the person you speak with may or may not be a graduate so that the depth of knowledge may vary.


  • Start early, send your application before the rush, as colleges will take more care in reading it. Bottom line, meet all deadlines.
  • Type your application and watch for grammar and spelling.
  • Copy all materials sent electronically or by mail.
  • All colleges prefer that you submit electronically but in most cases will accept hard copy applications which you will have to request by mail, email, or phone.


  • Tell a story only you could possibly tell. Reflect on the story. Tell about the reaction, how it impacted you, don't just write about the action. Have someone who knows you and have someone who does not know you well read it and write three adjectives that describe you. Is that what you meant to convey? Write about something personal that you can be passionate about. Show curiosity and self- awareness. Don’t go beyond suggested limit or use a gimmick.

Wait Listed/Appeal

  • If placed on a “wait list”, send that college more relevant information about yourself to improve your chances of being pulled off the “wait list” (i.e. new test scores, mid-year grades, special circumstances,etc.) Know that there has to be significant, new information to make a difference.  Follow the above to appeal if you feel there is just cause. Know that a small percentage of students are successful in reversing an admission’s decision.

No Acceptances

  • Go to NACAC website in May to see what schools may still be looking for students. Apply to a junior college.