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Applying for College? Here’s How to Maximize Your Chances of Acceptance

College applications can be very competitive these days. This means that if you’ve got your heart set on a particular program, you must do everything you can to maximize your chances of being accepted. While there’s no magic answer that will guarantee you a place, you can take plenty of actions to shift the odds in your favor.

From keeping procrastination at bay to crafting the ideal personal essay, each of the six tips below will help take you one step closer to achieving your academic dreams.

1. Get organized


If you want to be successful, you need to approach college applications in an organized manner. You might have numerous different deadlines for submitting forms, taking standardized tests, and providing evidence of previous qualifications, as well as interview dates to arrange. The earlier you begin work on your applications, the better because it will give you more time to ensure that they’re perfect.

For those who find it difficult to get organized, try the following:

  • Write a comprehensive to-do list (or use a digital one) of all the tasks you need to accomplish and by what date
  • Make a schedule detailing exactly what you’re going to do every day to complete those tasks
  • Keep your desk clear and clutter-free, with everything that you need to work on your college applications within easy reach

2. Research your options thoroughly


All college programs are different, which means that your applications for each one need to be different too. To give yourself the best chance of being accepted, you need first to get all the information about the university and the course – from the details of the curriculum to the specific entry requirements. Websites such as are great for this task because they set out the exact GPA and test scores you should aim for to get into different colleges. This helps you calculate your acceptance likelihood and plan where to apply.

For many high school students, it’s wise to submit applications to more than one college:

  • Your dream option that you could get into if you truly strive for it
  • A college you stand a good chance of getting into at your current level
  • A back-up choice that you’ll definitely get into, even if your results are not as good as you hope

If you’re a mature student who’s not awaiting exam results, it can still be helpful to apply to more than one college – one slightly above the other.

3. Tackle procrastination head-on


Procrastination afflicts almost everyone from time to time, but it can definitely wreak havoc when applying to college! If it’s something you struggle with, utilize these top tips to break free of its grasp:

  • Break up your overall goal of ‘applying to college’ into smaller ones that are less intimidating and more manageable
  • Allow yourself a small reward each time you tick off one of these mini goals
  • Find it hard to concentrate? Grab a pair of noise-canceling headphones, or work in a library. Some people find working in a coffee shop helps, because you can feel the eyes of others on you!
  • Get distracted easily? Use an app that blocks your access to social media and other sites for a specified period of time
  • Can’t get started? Promise yourself to work for just five minutes. You’ll almost certainly find it easier to keep going after the time’s up

4.Level up your study skills


Studying effectively will help you get better exam results, both before you apply to college and once you’re there. Some of the best tactics are:

  • Spacing out your learning rather than trying to cram it all in the night before an exam. This will help you to remember the information better
  • Actively testing yourself on what you’re learning or trying to teach it to someone else instead of just reading over your notes and textbooks multiple times
  • Experimenting with different styles of learning to discover what works best for you personally
  • Deepening your understanding of the material – for instance, by asking how certain numbers were arrived at or why certain facts are true – rather than just memorizing them
  • Reading widely rather than simply sticking to what’s on the recommended reading list

5.Don’t forget about extracurriculars

While academic qualifications and results are generally given the greatest weight on college applications, they are not the only factors that the admissions team will be considering. It’s also important to show that you are a well-rounded individual with diverse talents and interests.

They’re going to be looking for someone who will be a true asset to the college and improve the culture on campus. Therefore, you should also highlight the extracurricular activities you do and what skills and positive traits they’ve enabled you to develop. In addition to activities such as sports and the arts, you can also draw attention to any volunteering, internships, or other work experience you’ve done.

6. Write the perfect personal statement


For most colleges, the personal essay that accompanies your application is the most important document they’ll see. Lots of people have good grades, so this is your chance to stand out from the crowd. To begin with, make sure that you check the requirements carefully so you know exactly what question you’re supposed to be answering and how many words you have available to do it in.

In addition to demonstrating your academic strengths and extracurricular activities, it’s vital that you allow your passion for the program you’re applying for to shine through. Discuss the specific reasons why you’re interested in studying it and how it fits into your career aspirations. Colleges want to see that you’re a highly motivated student who will commit themselves wholeheartedly to their studies.

Lastly, be sure to go over the text with a fine-tooth comb before submitting it! Do your best to catch any typos or grammar mistakes, and ensure that each paragraph flows on to the next one in a logical manner. It can be helpful to get someone else to look at it, too, to proofread the essay and offer an outside perspective on the content.