A guide to getting into college


Rebecca Cantrell

Senior Josh Joines fills out his Common App before deadlines, the most “common” site used when filling out college applications.

Rebecca Cantrell, Reporter, Photographer

As seniors begin their final year in high school, peers and adults alike ask daunting questions regarding college and future career plans. Seniors wonder how and when they should start applying to college, how to receive a college recommendation, and how to write a solid admissions essay.

Multiple websites, such as California Career Center, offer tips and tricks to seniors on how to apply to college.  From grades to test scores to finding appropriate recommendations, these websites guide students in direction of success.

No matter what institution, grades and rigor play a vital role in acceptance. College-bound students should take as many rigorous courses, such as AP, honors, or IB classes, as possible and receive high grades. Universities notice students who take rigorous classes, looking at their weighted grade point average (GPA). Students should research potential colleges and see what they require for GPA and credits.

Although unnerving, students should begin college applications as soon as possible. Research interesting colleges and note which application form the school accepts. Does the university use the Common App or require applicants to fill out the university’s specific application?  Schools such as Yale or Harvard use the Common App while the University of Georgia (UGA) uses its own application.

While filling out activities and clubs, let the admissions officers know about involvement and personality.

“[Make] [the application] very personal to yourself and unique based on your story and your background in order to make you stand out to college admission officers,” senior Rachel Hunt said.

During sophomore year, students take the PSAT to find their strengths and weaknesses. Take the SAT and ACT at least once during junior and senior year and see which test provides the better score. NC offers multiple ACT and SAT prep classes and students can take advantage of them after school and through Warrior Wednesday. Many universities also superscore the ACT or SAT, which means they take the highest scores in each section to compute the average. Research ideal universities and note their required ACT/SAT scores.

Depending on the due date for the application, colleges may not require essays. Early decision for UGA does not require an essay, but any college on Common App requires one. On Common App, applicants may choose from five essay prompts with a maximum of 650 words. The diction should be vivid and impactful and the essay must answer the question.

“[The essay] is an unique way that colleges get to look at you and see another side of you that your scores can’t show,” Laura Foster, AP English Literature teacher, said.  

Most importantly, students should keep up on the application deadlines. Unlike high school teachers, college admissions officers will not accept any late applications. Turning in the application early will save applicants the pressure of working on the deadline.

With these tips in mind, seniors can breath easy with college applications and begin a new chapter in their lives.

A guide to the Do's and Don'ts to college essays and applications.
Rebecca Cantrell
Tips to the Do’s and Don’ts to college essays and applications.