How to get into a Good College
If you are looking to be admitted to your dream school, it is wise to begin preparing now, no matter if you are in middle school, high school, or 30-something and married with children. The college admission process can be lengthy and working to increase your chances of getting into your college of choice.
There is compelling research almost everywhere which shows that the higher the level of education, the greater the income earning potential. A college degree doesn't guarantee a six-figure salary, mind you. But, to compete in today's job market, a college degree is essential.
What follows here is information that may be helpful to middle and high school-age students, their parents, and adults for whom college will become a component of daily life, whether as a student, or a student supporter.
Standardized test scores
For middle and high schoolers, sitting for standardized tests is a fact of life. Do colleges and universities really look at your scores? It depends. Many schools believe that scores on a standardized test don't tell the whole picture of the individual student, so other things are considered, like grade point average (GPA), extracurricular activities, volunteer involvements, as well as your personal statement or college essay, and the like. These kinds of additional activities create what many say is a "well-rounded" student, and illustrates an ability to juggle varied time demands while maintaining focus on studies and learning.
If you do decide to take the SAT or ACT and want to include them in your college application, here's a great place to start. You'll find links here that offer information on the SAT and ACT exams and how to prepare to take them with a successful outcome.
Advanced Placement (AP) classes
What does this mean? These classes, referred to as AP classes, are college-level classes a high school student can take at a local college. Provided the final grade is acceptable to credit, the high school student can apply that credit toward what is needed for college graduation. As these are college-levels of study, they are often more challenging courses than a regular high school course, and it is likely to be a much more student-centered class where the student must practice time-management skills and individualized learning. There is no teacher to prod with reminders of assignment due dates. The high school student gets an invaluable lesson in what will be expected of him or her in college.
How heavily do AP scores weigh on a college application? Some schools do look closely at AP grades, which normally are "weighted." On the final exam for an AP class, the student will earn a score that will be a number from 1 to 5, with 5 being extremely qualified for college placement and/or credit. A score of 1 means the student will not be recommended for credit or placement. That score is then "translated" into an A, B, C, D, or F. Admissions boards do take into consideration that the AP course is much more strenuous than the student's other high school courses.
In the eyes of some, AP scores are a good indicator of whether the student will be able to perform well in a college environment under the demands of college-level study. Others believe that the final score is of no indication of potential future performance.
There are some links that follow here regarding some schools' admissions office process and where the final scores of AP classes fall in the big picture of the application process.
Importance of good grades
This may be a bit of a no-brainer. With poor grades, admissions decisions are hard-pressed to make a case for accepting an applicant. If the student has illustrated that they are unable to perform in high school as show by their high school GPA, colleges are less likely to admit students who will not be successful in the academic world of the university. College credits are very costly, as are instructor salaries. Applicants must prove to be worthy investments.
So, how important are grades? In the links that follow, there is information that addresses that question. Where some colleges didn't place a lot of emphasis on AP test scores, or SAT test scores, or sports participation, the consensus is that a lot of emphasis is placed on grades.
How important are extra-curricular involvement?
That depends on the school, and you'll read that from the links that follow. For some schools, they don't matter in the least. For others, it goes back to the "well-rounded" concept mentioned earlier. Some high school athletes, however, who are particularly good at certain sports, will find they may have opportunities for athletic scholarship awards. This is money that is given, not loaned, to students in exchange for their commitment and a GPA of a certain minimum. In some cases, a scholarship can make college affordable for some students who would otherwise be unable to attend.
Adults and collegeAdults are going to college, or going back to college, for individual reasons. For the majority, however, most have an economic basis. Employed adults are going back to school to update antiquated skills in a highly-competitive job market. The unemployment rate in the U.S. for 2011 has hovered at 9 percent. Unemployed or laid-off adults are changing careers. Others may need to earn higher incomes to support families or provide a better lifestyle for themselves or others.
Having a college degree creates the potential for greater employment earnings than for those without a degree. An advanced, or graduate degree, can mean even higher earning potential.
For adults who need to combine college with jobs, and also families, that can be a challenge. Thus, the growth of available on-line college courses, and corresponding enrollments in distance learning programs, has skyrocketed in the last few years, only to grow even more in the near future.
In the links that follow is information that adults might find helpful in transitioning back to college, and some other considerations for handling the tuition costs.
Finally, no matter what age, all students will benefit from helpful advice regarding college and making the most of the learning experience. There is something of value here for everyone.
Nights & Weekends - When adults choose to go back to college, most times they are juggling work and family, and now are adding to what's already on their plate. Community colleges with night and weekend classes could allow some adults to comfortably fit class into their schedules.
A Good SAT Score - This site has the answers to some common questions about the SATs, in general, with some ideas on how to properly prepare for taking the exams.
College Readiness - While some experts say SATs scores don't equate to college grades, other experts do believe that high SAT scores do indicate readiness for rigorous college study.
Practice for the SATs - Here is a link to the website for just about everything to do with the SAT exams - registering, testing tools you can buy or do for free by clicking on links here, and a lot of invaluable info for those preparing to take these standardized tests.
Test Preparation - Find some sample ACT tests here in preparation for the real thing.
Economic impact - Read this article from U.S. News and World Report and the growing numbers of on-on-line college enrollment and learn to what this phenomenal growth is being attributed.