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How to Get Admitted to College: From Application to Interview

What's the formula for college admission again? High school activities + public service (grades x ACT or SAT scores)? The truth is, there isn't a college admission calculator out there. And that's a good thing.

Colleges and universities don't just see you as a set of admissions criteria, they look at the whole package — your leadership qualities, your service to the community, what you say about yourself in your personal essay and what others think about you in your letters of recommendation. So what's in your admission tool kit? Read on to get the scoop on the college admissions process.

Student outside Spring Hall

Read the Admission Requirements

Narrowed down your top college choices? Even think you've decided on an undergraduate major? Not too fast. Before you submit your college application, read over the requirements specific to the university and program you're interested in.

High-demand programs can fill up early. Plus, applying for college early can mean more scholarship or financial aid money for you — and a less-stressful senior year once you've been accepted.

Submit an Application

Get ready to talk (a lot) about yourself. You'll need your social security number and other important information at hand, but you'll also be answering questions about any college credit you've earned, what you want to major in and writing essay questions. You can apply online. Many colleges — including Saint Louis University — accept the Common Application. Find out everything you need to know about applying to SLU.

Write a Great Admission Essay

Why does an admission counselor care what you think the best invention of all time is? Or what you'd do if you could travel back in time? They're not looking for the "right" answer; they're looking for an answer that tells them something about you. The best advice for writing college admission essays (beside paying close attention to spelling and grammar) is to be honest and sincere. What topic do you know better than yourself?

Write an Activities Resume

Your academic transcript will tell colleges what you do in class. But grades aren't the whole story. A one-page outline of your high school activities gives colleges and universities another way to get to know you.

Include student organizations, sports, volunteer work or involvement in your place of worship. What specific activity you do is not as important as the leadership and commitment it shows.

Ask for Recommendation Letters

The adults in your life have been watching you grow for years; give them a chance to brag. If your high school is large and you don't have a close relationship with your guidance counselor, choose a favorite teacher, a coach or an advisor to write a recommendation letter.

You can also ask a mentor, your boss or a volunteer supervisor. Just remember, recommendation letters for college shouldn't come from people who are related to you (sorry, Mom).

Ace Your College Interview

One of your best chances to make an impression on your college admissions counselor is by talking with them in person. Be confident. Tell them why you are interested in college and what you hope to study.

And the best tip for an admissions interview? Ask questions. A genuine interest in the school is what every college and university is looking for.

Get More Admission Interview Tips

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