Going to a good college opens up a lot of opportunities, like getting a high-paying job that you enjoy in this tough economy. If you want to get into your dream college, itâ€™s important to prepare while youâ€™re still in high school. College admission officers still consider your high school transcript the most important record to determine whether you get accepted or not. Itâ€™s almost impossible to get into the top colleges without good grades and good grades in advanced placement (AP) courses. However, you donâ€™t need straight Aâ€™s to get into most colleges in the country. 99 % of the time, a few Bâ€™s and even a C wonâ€™t hurt your chances of getting into the college of your choice. If you donâ€™t have a stellar GPA, focus on other parts of your application: SAT scores, letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities (volunteer work, leadership roles, sports and club participation).Â
College preparation means you need to take and pass a standardized testâ€”SAT or ACT. Selective schools usually compare GPA and SAT/ACT and weed out applicants who do not score high enough. If you have a few Bâ€™s in your record, make sure to get a high SAT/ACT score. You might want to take some SAT subject courses to prepare if your school does not already require them.
Advanced Placement Courses
Even if you have poor grades from your freshman or sophomore year, good grades later in your high school career tell more about your character. If you were a slacker before, be a go-getter in your senior year. The best way to show that youâ€™re really putting your neck on the line is to take advanced placement classes and do well in them. A â€˜Bâ€™ in College-Prep English or Advanced Physics counts more than an â€˜Aâ€™ in woodshop or gym.
Some schools allow you to get a pass/fail for core classes that you are weak at. For example, if you hate social studies but are required to take it, a pass/fail mark will not affect your GPA if you donâ€™t do great in the subject. However, keep in mind that most colleges consider a â€œpassâ€ mark equivalent to a D. Only take pass/fail if you absolutely need to.
The college application letter is your chance to tell your story. Take your time and have a teacher or family member review your essay for grammar, spelling and coherence. If your weak grades were due to personal, family or financial problems, make sure to mention it. Be as specific as possible while you write about your accomplishments in other areas, your work ethic and your goals. Donâ€™t worry if you have to write the essay ten times to make it perfect.
Letters of Recommendation
Universities require letters of recommendation from your teachers, principal, advisers or former employers. Donâ€™t pick a famous person who knows your family; itâ€™s important that the person/s you select know you very well and can vouch for your character, work ethic and academic performance.
While good grades tell a lot about a personâ€™s character (hard worker, determined), you can show that you are committed and have something to contribute through other means. If youâ€™ve never really liked academics and sitting inside all day, excel in extracurricular activities. This shows admissions officers that you are very passionate about other things, even if you do have some Bâ€™s. While itâ€™s great to shore up your record with activities, itâ€™s not a good idea to join everything. Youâ€™ll want to do activities that play to your strengths. Flaunt your athletic, musical and artistic gifts by joining sports clubs, the band or the school paper. Like animals? Volunteer at the ASPCA or wilderness refuge. Great at drawing? Take summer jobs at the printerâ€™s shop or at your local animation studio. If you choose your activities wisely, they may even count as job experience. Colleges are looking for people who will make something of themselves after graduation and make their alma mater proud.