The best strategy is an outstanding record where no excuses have to be made. However, the following suggestions will enhance the student’s chances for admission.
1. Know your deadlines! This can make a big difference for the borderline student or the student applying to highly competitive colleges. If you are a borderline student, you will want to get a well-written application, candidate’s statement and letter of recommendation in before the admission’s officer is deluged with applications. If you are a very weak student, you may wait until the first grading period is over so you can include a strong report card with your application and still get it in before November. If you are a strong candidate, you may wish to consider early decision, early action or early notification.
Early Decision: If you are very certain of where you want to go, you might consider applying early decision. Under this plan, you agree not to go to any other school if you are accepted (some plans require that you not even apply to any other school). Colleges “love to be loved” and some times the acceptance rate is a bit higher than those who choose the regular decision route. If you are rejected, you are usually deferred to regular decision.
Early Action: Under this plan you do not have to withdraw other applications and you do not have to make a final commitment until May first. However, the competition for early action is tough and if you don’t make it, you may be rejected rather than deferred. Unless you are certain of your acceptance, it is better to apply regular decision since your competition will be less challenging.
Early Notification: While it does not prevent you from applying to other schools, it does require an answer by March 1st. Since most other competitive colleges don’t notify until April, you should only apply early notification if it is your first choice.
2. Have a strong senior year, enroll in at least four academic classes each semester.
3. Apply to at least one school where you will be easily admitted.
4. Most students should not apply to more than five schools. Many colleges trade lists or ask the student where they have applied. Too many applications may tell colleges you are indecisive or lack confidence.
5. Answer all correspondence and send in all fees requested. The student is not admitted in many schools until a deposit is paid.
6. If the student does not meet the requirements but is close to meeting them, ask for an interview. It is best for the student to prepare for the interview as an opportunity to make a good impression. While parents may coach the applicant, the interview is something that the student should do on his own.