College Week Live: Get Me To College: Ten Tips to Strengthen Your College Application
Get Me Into College: Ten Tips to
Strengthen Your College
Dr. Rebecca Joseph
What Do Colleges Look For…
Rigor of Coursework
Strong Senior Years
Grades are the top factor of admissions.
Please make sure to enter all academic information correctly
Get an official copy of your transcript and check.
Get extra copies for future usage.
Make sure you report the correct GPA—don’t estimate. Ask
Senior year is critical year. Colleges will see your grades.
Most colleges will see your first semester even after
application is submitted
You can even send in first quarter grades to early colleges.
Colleges will see second semester-avoid the black hole of
Rigor of Coursework
Colleges expect you to keep the difficulty of
your classes consistent through senior year.
You list your senior grades on applications.
If you change classes, you must notify
You cannot drop classes.
If you are planning on transferring, your
grades all year are the most important of all
You have one more time to take SAT or
You must send your test scores to
colleges. They are not official unless you
Double-check that colleges received
Some colleges take
◦ Only highest overall day
◦ Highest per section
Keep all application usernames and
passwords on your phone and on your
Once you apply, please make sure to keep
all emails—they will send you college
specific user names, enable you to track
status of all submitted materials, and send
you info about scholarships
Make sure all paperwork is submitted
Make sure you fill out all sections of
Look at optional sections and see if you
can submit key additional information
Spend the rest of November and
December completing high quality
Print them out before submitting and
double-check for mistakes or omissions.
Please remind teachers and counselors to
submit your recommendations in time for
Track the submission on Naviance,
Common Application, and individual
If you need extra recommendations,
contact recommenders now and find out
how to submit the recommendations
Give gift cards and thank you notes.
Make sure to continue with your leadership
and initiative in activities.
If colleges ask for activities, be as descriptive
about your leadership and initiative as
Keep a record of what you do all year.
If you are planning to transfer, your activities
are key this year and next summer.
Make sure you have an up-to-date resume.
You need to keep revising your essays
Make sure they answer all parts of the
Make sure you give visuals and key examples
of your leadership and initiative
Have someone you trust proof them for
grammar and technical
Format the essays correctly.
◦ Common Application
◦ Other applications
10 Essay Reviewing Questions
Does your essay start with a story that hooks us in from the first
If you start in the past, do you get to the present very quickly?
Colleges want to know about the recent you. Great essays can
start more recently and weave in past events.
Do you write only in the first person and not spend too much
time describing anyone or anything else? Use my one-third-twothird rule.You may not spend more than 1/3 of the essay
describing anything other than your own activities and goals.
If you are writing about your community or family or location, do
you get to the present and your life and life works quickly? Can
this description only connect to you and your story of who are
you and how you are making a difference?
Do you only tell one story and not try to tell your entire life
More Reviewing Questions
If you are writing about an obstacle or challenge or failure overcome, do you get
to how you have responded and made a difference in the life of your community
by the second or third paragraph of the essay? Admissions officers want to know
who are you and how you make an impact drawing upon your obstacles or
challenges or failures.
Do you have a metaphor that goes through the entire piece…does this
metaphor reveal who you are and what you offer to potential colleges? You can
embed this metaphor throughout out your piece.
Can I close my eyes and picture your story? Does it make you sound unique and
not like anyone else applying? Can I see your leadership and initiative and the
power of what you will offer a college campus?
Do you tell new stories and qualities in each separate essay your write? Do you
make sure to reveal powerful information and core messages that colleges will
need to know to admit you and give you money to attend?
Endings-Do you end with a bang? Do you make it clear by the end you have goals
and aspirations that drive you. Your endings must be specific for some prompts
like the University of California and University of Texas, but can be more oblique
and implied in Common Application and many supplementary essays. Do you end
your essays leaving the reader with the desire to get to know you more, to see
you on his or her campus, and to share your essay with someone else?
Interviews and Campus Visits
Go to college websites and see if they conduct
Check my tips.
Interviews are information or evaluative.
Many campuses do them after you submit
application. Make sure your respond to requests
Make sure you prepare and send a thank you
note within 48 hours.
Also it’s not too late to visit colleges on your list
that are within an hour or two away.
Try to visit local colleges on your list if you haven’t
Even if you can’t visit, you can demonstrate interest
to a college.
One of the college specific webcasts today counts.
You can read their blogs, you can follow them on
twitter, you can go to local events.
Keep track of what you learn so you can use it in a
college specific essay or contact info on Common
If you apply, and then something really cool happens,
send the admissions officer in charge of your area
with an update email.
Senior year is difficult in many ways but it
is essential to do well.
You must keep your grades as high as
You can apply for as many scholarships as
You must enjoy yourself but not allow the
black hole of senioritis to take over your
◦ Two stories
You can do it!
I know you can make the next few
months really count.
If you need any help,
◦ Look at my website: getmetocollege/hs
◦ Follow me on twitter @getmetocollege
◦ I will post this powerpoint on Slide Share: Get
Me To College