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12 Things to Know About Getting into your Dream Course and College


Admissions to schools get challenging every year. Because of this, the dream of getting into your dream course and college can be frustrating--too frustrating that you’re close to resorting to black magic and magic your way inside. In reality, there’s no magic or even formula in getting your dream course and college. It’s just a matter of the right approach and better understanding to make a strong impression and application. To help you with this, here's a holy grail of ways and tips on how to get into your dream course and college. 

1. Identify your dreams 

Before setting off to your journey, it is good to know what’s your dream course and college first. Different colleges have different admission requirements while different courses have different entry requirements, so it’s best to know them before applying. 

2. Prepare for tests and interviews 

Competitive courses usually require tests and interviews so you’re up against harsh competition. Even with the competition, it is in tests and interviews where you can shine. So it helps to prepare and practice mock tests and interviews. 

3. Create and practice 

If your dream course requires you to perform or submit a portfolio with samples of your work, get started early on developing and refining your skills. That way, when the time comes, you will be ready to present your best. 

4. Grades and test scores carry you mostly 

Academic accomplishments and the rigor of courses you’ve taken may make or break you. It carries a great percentage of your application and will make you a viable candidate. Passing or acing your SAT, Advanced Placement (AP) and ACT tests, maintaining a high GPA or taking prep and honors classes will help you get that good record. 

5. You’re more than your exam scores. Be extra. 

Differences among big batch of students with outstanding credentials become more important after they’re identified, referring to Eric Hoover from The New York Times. Extracurricular activities, recommendations and essays play a part in getting accepted. The New York Times mentioned that admission deans usually seek these traits among applicants: leadership, risk taking, emotional intelligence, fire for learning, critical thinking, curiosity, empathy, optimism, grit, perseverance and the ability to overcome obstacles. 

Community service and volunteer work also helps turn the tides to your acceptance. Admission offices reward applicants that do “good”. Colleges now take closer look what applicants have done to help others, be it their neighbor, family members or strangers. 

You don’t have to invest to do something good. A simple tutor service or volunteer work at a homeless shelter near your community could go a long way. 

Additionally, experiences from the industry of your dream course can boost your chances of getting into that course. Be sure to mention them in your essays, interviews and information forms to increase your chances, even if you don’t meet the academic requirements. 

6. Go beyond the four corners 

For colleges, good grades, extracurricular activities and volunteer work is not enough. They also look for students with experience outside the four corners of the classroom. A part-time job or summer employment can be a way to demonstrate that you take initiatives, adjust priorities and manage time. Handling all of this plus maintaining a high GPA, may help you become a strong candidate to be considered. 

7. Be genuine 

Talk about your experiences, passions and goals in your essay or during interviews rather than being boastful. By getting a deeper and an authentic insight to your personality and your life, you can catch the eye of colleges. According to The New York Times, some deans believe that alternative formats such as videos, pictures, audio files or documents help them get a deeper insight on the applicant, so it’s fine to get a little creative with your application. 

There are prestigious schools who introduced the option of these alternative formats. It is good to remember that polished essays that are not good—same goes with the alternative formats. So hiring someone to do your essays or video for you is not an option. Schools still go for original and genuine content. 

According to New York Times, a submission made with an alternative format is a “difference maker” for a dean. At Yale, about 400 applicants out of 33,000 sent something in an alternative format. 

Showing your true self will make the big difference from getting accepted or not. 

8. Colleges seek diversity 

A lot of colleges try to increase their access and so emphasizing your background and how your personal story relates to your achievements in your essays and interviews would help you a lot. 

Colleges think about the socioeconomic context such as the quality of the applicant’s high school to better understand the opportunities they had and the challenges they faced. It’s good to know that even if you’re not part of the elite, you can still be accepted. 

Eric Hoover from New York Times stated that colleges juggle competing goals to increase diversity and bring in more revenue when choosing applicants. 

Colleges don’t just choose students who have earned straight As or won the most awards, so rejection doesn’t usually mean you’re not one of the best. 

9. But money does matter 

Although colleges think of the socioeconomic context and vie for diversity in the university, many colleges still look into the financial circumstances. The ability to pay all or some of the tuition fee is a bonus. Qualified students with limited means might get rejected for no other reason than the lack of money. 

10. Geography plays a part 

Colleges want students from all over, ideally from all 50 states, trying to bridge the urban-rural divide. They pay closer attention to promising applicants from lesser populated areas.

11. Connections don’t guarantee 

Your Mom and Dad’s connections alone will not get you in. Although it helps, colleges reject a lot of these applicants. 

12. Let them know they’re first 

Let your dream college know they’re your first choice. According to The New York Times, 1 out of 5 colleges allot importance to “demonstrated interest”, where applicants convey their willingness to attend the college. 

Answer their emails and talk with the admission officers. Talk about your willingness to get into the college when you visit the campus.


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