PREPARING FOR COLLEGE STEP 3: WHAT COLLEGES ARE LOOKING FOR

There IS one more requirement to the final college selection process.

That’s for that college to choose you.

The challenging step is for YOU to make the choice for college, and which type or specific school. But, don’t forget that the people on  the other side…the inside…have to choose and approve you.

Not everyone gets into the school of choice as you probably all  know. Certainly test score requirements, SAT/ACT scores, certain other specific requirements to get into a college may be a hindrance.

But tonight we’re going to alleviate this step. What should you do to prepare for colleges? There is a list of things that just about every college uses as part of its approval/entrance/selection process. Many of you may be wondering, “What do they look for?” “What do I need to do to prepare?”

If you want to make the right choice of colleges, use this list as a means of preparation for yourself, but this is basically what colleges and universities, both public and private, vocational and community/junior colleges use as a method of selection. Some schools are not as stringent on their requirements. As long as you have a  GED or high school diploma, that is enough to get in.

There’s always a but…

BUT, this list of things should prepare you better for,or at least keep in mind as to what colleges use as a part of their selection criteria….lol. There are 8 things that form the word CRITERIA that I think can help you to keep it together.

1. Course selection- colleges want to know what types of courses you’ve taken in the past, and why. Your interests, skills and personalities might lie within this. Taking certain courses in high school leads to a lot of career selections. Now, many colleges require certain courses in high school before being eligible for approval. Make sure you are taking the course required, or encouraged. Check with your teachers or Guidance Counselors. For example most Nursing degrees require you to have taken Biology in high school before entering into the Nursing program.

2. Rank in class- Many of us just don’t make this and rank top 10%. It’s okay if you don’t. But if you do, you better brag about it. You deserve it! Let them know your ranking. Chances are, they will find out, but make sure they know upon applying for colleges. Colleges use this as a criteria piece in their selection. Many schools are cutting back a little on enrollment, slapping a cap on numbers, so they may use this as a line to draw in the numbers. It might be the one thing that gets you in, so keep your ranking as high as you can.

3. Interests- I advocate this so much with all of you anyway, that it should be second nature, If not read me here! But what are you interested in not just with your career interests and personalities, but what kinds of things are you looking for at a college? Do you want a student lounge to study in? Want to party a little when done with class? Extra-curricular activities, student government, multicultural activities and programs, organizations, spiritual organizations, student life, etc., etc,. etc. It’s all there in many different forms and ways, so you have to do some searching when visiting colleges.

4. Test scores- Many colleges and public universities might have tests, entrance examinations or orientation/placement exams that you must take in order to be accepted. Be aware of these and prepared. There are schools that don’t require these. It’s just a part of their entrance process in getting into their college. Now almost all schools require some sort of assessment test that you take when you start, this test merely assesses your abilities and skills in certain areas like composition, math and science. They just want to know where you stand. That’s why its important to pay attention and focus on these kind of course in high schools

5. Essays- If you are not a good writer, you should practice a little, or at least start thinking about essays that you might have to write in order to be considered for selection. Many schools require an essay of some sort so they can hear from you. Remember to be specific and personal. Make your essay stand out. Hit me up anytime if you need help.

6. Recommendations- Have these anyway. Don’t burn your bridges. Many of you feel like turning your finger to the high school as you walk out those doors for the last time. So to speak here. But many times we say and do things to people, especially those adults or work colleagues, counselors, bosses, community people who you have a relationship with. These are the people who can vouch for your character, skills, talents, and you as a person. Many school ask for letters of recommendations. My suggestion here guys is that you ask 3 people for a letter of recommendation: 1. Someone that can vouch and positively talk of your work ethic, volunteer work, etc. 2. Someone like a friend or relative or fellow employee that can talk of your character and attitude/personality.   3. Someone like a teacher or Counselor that can vouch for you as a student.

7. Interviews- They do these. They do them a lot and in fact I would say more colleges and universities are conducting personal interviews with you more than ever. They want to meet you first. Want to get to know you. Be ready and be able to talk about yourself. I know this is hard for many of you but brag about yourself. Some people say “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” well I say Sweat the small stuff!!! Brag about those things that you think are miniscule, minor and have no future meaning. They just might.

8. Academic performance- Certainly all your grades are very important. High school is there for you to advance your GPA high enough to get into college, and succeed in class. Your general GPA (Grade Point Average) shows up on your high schools transcripts that colleges receive.  They see your grades and judge your performance based on that. They can decide based on that so be careful.  I shot myself in the foot (not literally) several times because I did really bad in a certain class, and it wasn’t transferable. Now, those of you that have crappy grades, and barely graduate will have to look at colleges that might not necessarily use grades as a heavy tool of selection.

So, as you can see these aren’t anything that proves impossible to accomplish in order to get into college. I’ll always remember that attitude I had when applying for college. I always said to myself, there isn’t anyway I’m NOT going to college. I know I don’t have the money or the greatest grades, but I’m going. There is always a way.

The two worst things you can ever do is deny yourself your truly God-given abilities, and NOT go to college. 🙂

Don’t ever say ” can’t afford to go to college,” or “I don’t have the grades to get into college.”  That’s BS. All of you are eligible. There are thousands of people who have persevered and became something from nothing.

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Because…

My Success is Your Success,

Keith Lipke

Keith Lipke is a careers and college recruiter, coach, mentor and blogger at The Hope Chest. His passion is to educate, inspire, and give hope to young people along their journey who need it upon their search for the right career.

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