It’s that time of year again! Here are the steps I take to get my clients admitted into their top-choice college year after year. Remember, I have three goals for clients: graduate from college, in four years, with as little debt as possible. In that process, I also fulfill my other objective: creating a better student, not just a better applicant.

Did you catch #10? See it here.

9. Fill in the gaps.

Take a look at the schools that you would like to attend and see what courses they are asking you to take. That’s the quick answer. But you also need to look objectively at your application to see where you are not demonstrating a breadth of knowledge or where you need to show you are college-ready. Keep in mind that the more selective schools are able to graduate students in four years because they are not remediating their students. This means that they need to know that you are not going to fail their basic courses, including freshman writing and college-level Calculus.

Also remember that variety is most important. Be mindful of the type of science classes that they would like for you to take. Also remember that your first few years are spent with general education classes with the knowledge that you may declare a major based on something you enjoyed in one of those GE classes. This means that only stretching yourself in one subject area while in high school may turn out to be a red flag. High school should be the time you are discovering what you would like to do, but you can only do that if you actually try things.

There are ways to demonstrate college-readiness other than taking the courses, although that’s a great one. Certain questions on the SAT demonstrate this knowledge. Even certain AP courses (AP World and AP US History) teach skills that are useful in writing and in analyzing data. And more importantly, one can determine that based on the courses you have taken and your SAT score. This also means that it really is better to have someone who is able to review your transcript and score to give suggestions of ways to fill your gaps.

To give you a quick example of the above, if the lowest level of math is college-level Calculus, what would a student need to demonstrate for someone to know she will be good at college-level Calculus? In short, it would be demonstrating that one is good at math concepts and computation. To be honest, students don’t do much conceptual math before Calculus except for parts of Geometry, and parts of Trigonometry. So I would need to look at those questions on the SAT, or ensure that one did well in Geometry or took Trig, or even took another conceptual class such as Physics to demonstrate that.

Need help with that? Come to my workshop on May 28th!