The surprising secrets of college admission


Applying for college is one of the most stressful things that you will ever do. Trying to work out exactly what to put on your application, sending it off and then waiting by the mailbox every morning to see if you have had any responses. To help you with this process, here are some surprising secrets of college admission.

There is a college for everyone (at least, everyone who wants to go)

There are more than 4,600 postsecondary degree-granting institutions of higher education in the United States, and of these, around 2.900 are four-year colleges. 68% of high school graduated get into college every year. You hear a lot about “selective” colleges that can turn away applicants even if they tick every standard and there are still places, but there are actually only around 150 of these. Most of the colleges, around 2,750 in fact, will not turn away applicants as long as they meet the requirements and there are spaces.

It’s more about who isn’t in than who is in

Imagine being inundated with tens of thousands of applications and having to look through each one! Before they are looked at in depth, those that don’t meet the basic requirements are taken out. For example, if they have missed the deadline, not included a specific document or missed some information out, these will not even be considered. So make sure you double check before you even send it off!

You don’t have to be well rounded, but the freshman classes do

Sure, it’s great that you have worked hard to be seen as a well-rounded individual, but that isn’t necessarily what a college is looking for. Imagine a whole town where everyone was Albert Einstein – it just wouldn’t work! A class full of people who are jacks-of-all-trades but masters of none will not function well. Colleges generally want a balanced mix of talents, cultures, experiences, etc.

The earlier, the better

You don’t want to get to your junior year and realize that you don’t have anything unique to offer a college. You can’t talk about a specialty you haven’t got, or showcase a track record that never happened. As soon as you can participate in activities, learn skills and document your accomplishments, the better. Good grades or test scores are just not enough for most colleges, as you will be competing against a lot of people.

They can tell if you’re talking nonsense

Remember, the people who are reading these applications do this for a living, and they have a sixth sense if something isn’t right. For example, if you get someone else to write your application, or you rush the application, and it is disjointed, you won’t even make it past the first stage of selection. Don’t fabricate or spin your story, just be honest and let your track record speak for itself.

Remember, there is a college place available for almost everyone who wants one, but that doesn’t mean you can be complacent when it comes to applying. Work hard, start planning and remember to check you’ve included everything before putting it in the mailbox – good luck!