What It Takes To Get Into College

Many high school students and their parents want to know what it takes to get into college.

Have no fear…It is not as difficult as you may think.

In this article we’ll discuss a few tips to help get you started and to simplify the process.

Tip #1: Work Hard.

Duh! I know, it may seem like a no brainer, but hard work is not only necessary to get into college, but it is also necessary to succeed in college-level courses. What do I mean exactly?

Performance in the classroom is key. Learn as much as you can in high school. Study hard, retain information, and get good grades. The college admissions committee will be paying close attention to your transcripts, so you want to make sure that you can make a good impression.

Tip #2: Do well on the ACT and/or SAT.

I know, we’re all not the best standardized test takers (myself included), but really try your best. Doing well on the ACT and/or SAT will really help you get into college. If taking some sort of review program prior to the test is an option for you, then I highly recommend it.

If not, then try heading down to your local bookstore to pick up a ACT/SAT review book or search online for sample practice questions. This will help you feel more prepared and boost your confidence as you head into the exam.

Tip #3: Get involved.

A lot of students think that getting involved means joining a club or a sports team to get into college. While these are great way to get involved at your school, there are other options available that will show the admissions committee that you are a well-rounded student.

You can volunteer at your local hospital or homeless shelter or become a youth group leader at church. The main point here is to show colleges that you are well-rounded and can contribute to their campuses on an academic and extracurricular level.

Tip #4: Take the Right Classes.

If you don’t attend a college-prep high school, make sure that your school counselor is clear on your intentions to attend college after high school, so that he or she can tell you what classes it takes to get into college.

Most colleges have the following baseline requirements:

  • English*: Consists of courses like Composition, Creative Writing, American Literature, and English Literature. You will need 4 years of English courses.
  • History*: Consist of courses like U.S. History, World History, and Geography. You will need to take 2 years of History courses.
  • Government and Economics*: Consists of courses like U.S. Government, Civics, and Economics. You will need 1-2 years of Government courses.
  • Math*: Consists of courses like Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Calculus. You will need 3-4 years of Math courses.
  • Science*: Consists of courses like Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. You will need 2-3 years of Science courses.
  • Foreign Language*: Consists of courses like Spanish, French, and German. You will need 2-3 years of Language courses.
  • Electives*: Consists of courses such as Art, Psychology and Music. You will need 1-3 years of Elective courses.

*However, it’s important that you research each school’s requirements prior to submitting your application.

Tip #5 Research.

As just mentioned, all colleges have different admissions requirements. Therefore, it is important that you are aware of these requirements for all of the schools that you are interested in attending. This way you’ll be able to work towards meeting all of these requirements prior to the application due date.

How do I research? Great question. The internet is your best tool. Most colleges have comprehensive websites that will tell you everything you need to know from admissions requirements to what degree programs are offered.

You also might want to take some time to visit the school’s campus. Usually the school will host “open houses” that offer campus tours on certain dates throughout the year or you can call to set-up an individual appointment. This will give you an opportunity to get a real feel for what the campus is like.

Don’t have the funds to visit in-person? Try to take a virtual campus tour. A lot of colleges offer these via their website or you can check this website.

Hopefully the tips contained in this article help you feel more prepared and helps you begin to understand what it takes to get into college.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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