The college admissions process can feel daunting, but understanding the core basics of college applications and how decisions are made will make the process manageable. Parents and students have some degree of control of the process, especially by starting early.

You Can Get In

Even though you hear about how hard it is to get into college, that’s the case for a relatively small number of schools, including the Ivy League Plus schools. About 500 four-year colleges admit over 75 percent of their applicants.

Start Early

Kindergarten is probably too early to start directly working on college admissions. However, parents may want to give students an early start by having them read a lot and instilling in them a love of learning.
Middle school is a good time for students to set themselves up for academic success in high school.

Once in high school (or just before the start of high school), students should plan ahead for extracurricular activities, academics, and the SAT/ACT.

Academics Are Important

Grades and standardized test scores are weighted heavily in the admissions decision at highly selective colleges. Students should prioritize tests and grades if they want to have more college options. (Keep in mind that some colleges don’t emphasize SAT/ACT scores.)

At the same time, colleges generally don’t want students to just study all the time. Therefore, extracurricular activities also play a role in the admissions decision.

Certain Students Get Special Consideration

Certain groups of students indeed get special consideration in the admissions process. These groups include legacies and certain minority groups. The evaluation of applications from these students is different from the evaluation of other applications.

Your College Advisors Guide to A is for Admission
You Have Some Control

Though the college admissions process may seem out of your hands, students and families do have some level of control. You can control when you start thinking about academics and college applications. Also, students can start early and prepare for the SAT/ACT since they already know that standardized exams are a major factor in whether they’re admitted into certain colleges. Do all you can to handle what can be controlled.

Final Thoughts

Certainly, the college admissions process is complicated. Nonetheless, there are things students can control and do to position themselves as best as possible. With enough knowledge and effort, students and families can put more of the control in their hands.

Ready to learn more? Read our guide to learn all about the college admissions process in less than 30 minutes!

(Photo: University of Minnesota Duluth)