College Applications

The College Application Process

College admission is still experiencing somewhat of a "perfect storm". The slow pace of the economic recovery continues to impact state budgets, even as high school graduating classes remain larger than ever. While the lower costs at public universities are attractive to families, budget cuts are forcing those same schools to increase their tuition while cutting back on admissions. At the same time, more students are applying to more schools, allowing colleges and universities to raise their requirements and turn away highly qualified students in record numbers. The past few admissions seasons were the most competitive and uncertain in history. The percentage of students accepted at top schools hit new lows, while wait list numbers reached new heights. Yesterday's "safety schools" remain "iffy" today. The high school class of 2012 was among the largest in our nation's history with over 65% of the graduating class enrolling in college.

Colleges continue to look for a complete package – students who will add skills and talent, thereby enhancing the vitality of the campus, while also demonstrating a high level of academic achievement. As colleges attempt to find these students, the pattern of acceptances and rejections is often unclear. Indeed, it can appear somewhat random.

But in reality, there is some method to the madness.

What can you do to beat the system? There is no way to guarantee your acceptance to a particular school. But with planning and strategy, you can greatly improve your odds. It’s time to start putting together your "case" - the absolute best possible presentation of your academic record and other strengths.

Most students possess more potential than they realize. Many have a unique "hook" or "ace" that they can use to their advantage. But it needs to be identified, developed, and presented properly. It also needs to be combined with an overall package of abilities, experiences and academic accomplishments that will catch the eye of the admissions staff. The recommendations contained in this handbook will help you to do that.

Our materials are geared toward students who plan to attend a four-year college or university. (In this handbook we will use the term "college" to represent any four-year institution.) However, community colleges have a lot to offer and have come to the forefront as economic pressures have increased and four year colleges have become more and more competitive. A community college may be a good choice for you if:

  • You plan on four years of college but prefer to stay at home for the first two for whatever reason.
  • You plan on a four year college but don't meet the academic requirements to enter.
  • You want to attend college but aren't sure where or what your career focus may be. As such, you want to complete your general education credits for less cost.
  • You wish to attend a college that will train you for a vocation in two years.

(See section on Transferring from a Community College later in the handbook.)

While we make no guarantee that you will obtain admission to your top choice(s), we believe that following our advice will give you the best possible chance. There is an excellent school out there for everyone (more than 3,500 in the U.S. alone) and a high percentage of students are accepted at their first or second choice college. As you begin this journey, keep this quote in mind: "College admission is a match to be made, not a game to be won." So keep a positive attitude and let the adventure begin!