1. BE YOURSELF, NOT SOME MYTHICAL, SUPER-STAR STUDENT YOU THINK YOU SHOULD BE.
Yes; colleges want good students, but they also want authentic, real people who are doing the best they can with the intellectual and other personal resources they have.
2. IGNORE THE RANKINGS; IDENTIFY COLLEGES THAT FIT YOU AS A STUDENT AND PERSON.
The more you do this, the better the chances are of your getting into colleges. Just a reminder: there is plenty of research to show that you don't have to attend an Ivy League to be a success in life.
3. AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE, SHOW COLLEGES YOU'RE INTERESTED IN THEM.
"Demonstrated interest" is getting to be more and more important to admissions officers. It is often called "a tip factor" in college admissions.
4. THROUGH EMAIL OR IN PERSON, GET TO KNOW THE IN-HOUSE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS REPS ASSIGNED TO YOUR HIGH SCHOOL FOR SCHOOLS THAT ARE ON YOUR COLLEGE LIST.
You never know when those relationships will pay off. adMISSION POSSIBLE TIP: in-house college reps are the ones who actually read and evaluate your applications?
5. CHOOSE ACTIVITIES THAT YOU LOVE, RATHER THAN WHAT YOU THINK WILL LOOK GOOD ON APPLICATIONS.
Colleges want students who are genuinely involved in a few activities that turn them on, not a long list of random involvements.
6. GET USED TO SAYING "THANK YOU" IN EMAILS AND PERSONAL COMMUNICATIONS.
You'll never know how much a personal thank you note or comment means to an admissions officer, counselor, teacher and others.
7. THE WAY TO STAND OUT IN COLLEGE APPLICATIONS (AND FRANKLY IN LIFE) IS TO BE A LITTLE BIT BETTER THAN THE COMPETITION.
Let your creativity come through; show your sense of humor, but also humility. When in doubt, do more, not less. Exceed their expectations.
8. WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF IN TROUBLE ACADEMICALLY--EVEN FOR A MOMENT--ASK FOR HELP FROM A FELLOW STUDENT, TEACHER, PARENT, OR TUTOR.
Even the smartest students know that they aren't perfect. The mark of a truly effective, competent person is knowing when to get more information, help or coaching.
9. SPEND THE EXTRA TIME NECESSARY TO WRITE VERY WELL.
Brainstorm, write, and then write some more. Edit and edit and then make sure spelling, grammar and punctuation are perfect. Teachers, college admissions officers and future employers pay a lot of attention to this.
10. DON'T GET CAUGHT UP IN COLLEGE ADMISSIONS MYTHS, RUMORS OR "SCHOOL PARKING LOT" FABRICATIONS.
Read the most authoritative books and websites you can find, as well as online news reports such as HuffPost College. Attend admissions seminars, talk to admissions counselors, college reps and students who are already in college.
If you still have a question after doing some research, go straight to "the horse's mouth:" call an admissions office. Ultimately, they are the ones who have the correct answers.
When it comes to college applications, you need to know, not presume, suppose or guess.