The New York Times’ The Choice college admissions blog recently published statistical admissions data to some of the nation’s most selective colleges. The Vocab Videos team encourages you to check out this 2010 admissions tally that will be regularly updated.
The article gives us some insight into just how difficult it is for students to get into top colleges these days. The Choice shares that undergraduate applications to Harvard rose nearly 5% to 30,489 with only 6.9% (or 2,110 students) admitted—that’s down from 7.5% in 2009. This trend, however, doesn’t stop at the Ivy Leagues. With more and more students trying to gain admittance to college, it’s growing more difficult for students to get accepted into all colleges in this increasingly competitive college admissions atmosphere.
But there are things you can do to make yourself a more “desirable” candidate. Consider the important admissions criteria below:
- SAT/ACT Scores: Whether we like it or not, standardized tests continue to play a significant role in students gaining admittance to college. Be sure to fully prepare for whichever college entrance exam you’re planning to take. Whether you have a tutor, are enrolled in a course, or are preparing on your own—do some test prep as often as possible. Whether it’s a few questions a day or a practice test a week, practice more than anything else, is going to help you master and feel comfortable with the exams. To get an early start on SAT and ACT prep, start up on your vocabulary; it’s something that can be easily incorporated into your daily test prep routine.
- Get Involved: If you’ve ever seen a college application, you’ll know that somewhere it’s going to ask you for your principal extracurricular, community, volunteer and family activities and hobbies.” Here, it’s your chance to show that you’re about more than grades and SAT scores. Because you know they’re going to be asking you for it, you should be aware of the importance of getting involved—in some way. You don’t have to join every club and sports team in addition to spending your weekends volunteering, but showing commitment to a few activities is imperative. (And if you’ve never volunteered, give it a shot, we’re sure that you’re going to find it quite rewarding).
- College Essay: The college essay is also crucial, and it’s something you can get an early start on. You’re generally given some degree of choice when it comes to essay topic (take a look at the Common App’s essay options below), so this is an opportunity for you to share something about yourself that you’d like colleges to know. The essay helps to distinguish you as an individual and proves that you’re more than a test score. Be sure to write about something you’re passionate about and take your time with the essay writing process. A thoughtful, well-written essay can make a big difference in distinguishing you as a candidate.
- Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
- Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you. Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.
- Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.
- A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you
- Topic of your choice.
Getting a head start on these items is going to make the college admissions process far less stressful for you, and doing each of them well is going to improve your chance of gaining admission to your top-choice colleges.