Applying for college can be a stressful time for high school seniors. From college applications to the SAT to reference letters, it can become completely overwhelming! Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered. We talked to some experts in college admissions to help you get accepted into your dream college!

Are you applying to colleges soon? Here's everything you need to know about college applications and how to apply to the college of your dreams!

Get Involved

“Involvement in a variety of activities looks good, but strategic involvement is better.  That is to say, find organizations, volunteer opportunities, and events to attend/ be involved in that relate to your specific interests.  For example, if you’re interested in engineering or science, join a STEM club, attend related camps, volunteer, shadow or perform your own research.  Being well-rounded is nice and to some extent important, but if you have specific interests, take the opportunity to expand your knowledge and experiences around those interests.  When students do this and they apply to schools that offer degrees or majors in those areas, they’ll stand out in the crowded field of prospective students.  Proactive, strategic involvement is not only key to personal growth, but experiences, and opportunities will set you apart.  Visiting campuses, and scheduling appointments with key individuals helps too.” –  Dr. Chester Goad

“Getting into your dream school requires planning and diligence. It is a path that should ideally begin early on in high school since everything from extracurricular activities to test scores play a major role in your acceptance. Try to understand the type of students your dream school accepts. Now more than ever, schools are increasingly looking for well-rounded students. Grades and scores will definitely play a prominent role, but so will your achievements outside of school.” – Katie Fang, Founder of SchooLinks

Send a Stellar Letter of Recommendation

“Only choose the two teachers who will glow about you. If you have grade-grubbed in an AP History class and then decide to ask that teacher for a recommendation because you are an A+ student, think again. That grade-grubbing can come back to bite you in your teacher’s recommendation. Be mindful! Make the most of junior year by forming relationships with your favorite subject teachers. Hang around after class or go to extra help. You can either receive help, or rather see if you can provide help to students who need it. Your teacher will show appreciation for this dedication in the recommendation he or she writes for you.” – Dr. Deborah Bedor, CEO of College Admission Central

Related: How to Successfully Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

Make a Good Impression

Remember to also to form a bond with your guidance counselor. You can do this through semester visits, updates, and stopping by and saying hi. Chat with your principal from time to time, or say hello if you see them walking on campus. Did you know that if you are a top student, you can ask your principal to make a call on your behalf to your first and possibly second choice schools? Because you can! However, you must reach out during the school year, inform the principal of the success of your special leadership or advocacy projects, and allow him or her to get to know you. When being an “A” student means different things across different schools, colleges look to your teachers, guidance counselor, and principal for honest, perceptive opinions of your ability and character.” -Dr. Deborah Bedor, CEO of College Admission Central

“Shake hands and get business cards at college fairs or when the reps come to your school. After visiting a school, send a hand written thank you note expressing your interest in a program.” – Sarah E. Langford, M.Ed.

Stand Out from the Crowd

“Remember that your application is one of hundreds, if not thousands, that an application counselor will read. Those counselors are your advocates. Put on a strong case, and make sure that your own voice comes through in your application – but don’t get too weird!” – Laila Flores, Admissions Counselor at Georgia Tech

“Be original. Be sincere. For instance, nobody at NYU admissions wants to read another repetitive response explaining how great New York City is and the career opportunities it has to offer. Tell the admissions panel about a specific teacher at NYU who you’re particularly interested in learning with, or about an alumni and their achievements that inspired you. Perhaps you read a novel by an author who teachers at their school. This strategy holds true regardless of where you apply.” – David Greenberg, Parliament Tutors

Be Aware of Your Digital Footprint

“Students should always be aware of building positive digital footprint. It’s not about just being public or private on social media. Admissions aren’t searching strictly to police students, schools have a huge problem with retention and they are also searching for things that validate and confirm what a student is putting on a college application. If a student is “private” everywhere, it’s almost as if he/she doesn’t exist, and sometimes that is worse than an admissions office finding a negative or silly thing a student did online. It’s perfectly acceptable for students to use social media privately with friends, but they should also be conscious of using additional social media outlets safely, to start to build their ‘digital brand’.” – Melissa Davis, CEO of GoEnnounce

Related: 5 Ways to Detach Yourself from Social Media

Make Sure it’s the Right Fit for You

“Find schools that are the right academic, social and financial fit. Not enough students consider only the academic piece (whether a school has the major I’m interested in) and the social fit. Ask yourself, “How does the campus ‘feel’? Does it have the opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities that are important to me?” Do not ignore whether it is a place you can reasonably afford and won’t incur unmanageable debt.” – Chris Willis, President of College Inside Track

“One of the most important things for a student to understand about applying to their dream school is that there is a difference between their “dream school” and the “best fit school”.  This is often a hard encounter with the reality of their expectations and the expectations of the dream college.  Simply the fact that it is a “dream” is a pretty good indication that there is a disconnect between their academic aptitude and the academic expectations of the college.” – Robert DeCock, Certified College Planning Specialist

Be in the Moment

“Please be sure to enjoy your senior year! The college process is just a small part of your senior year, it is not something that should consume your entire experience as a senior. You have done all of the work required to get into a college during the previous three years. Take the time to enjoy your final year of high school, because you are only a high school senior once! Continue to work hard but enjoy and savor your final year in high school.” – Jon Werkmeister, Bennington College Admissions Counselor

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