The college admissions process is a painstaking procedure that high school students have to go through.  It is a laborious love with hopes of being admitted to your favorite school. Years of school and study and months of test preparation lead to envelopes arriving at your home in the spring. Image the relief you’ll feel when you see “Congratulations” in bold lettering! Or are you still concerned about receiving a slight communication via email conveying what you dreaded?

 

Here are the bad news: college admissions are more competitive than ever, and it doesn’t seem to be changing. The good news is that you have more control over the admissions decision than you think. You simply have to spend a little time researching and do a little work. In the amount of time, you spend checking your closest friends’ social media or posting selfies that no one really cares about can find a great fit school that you can afford.

 

I’ve written easy-to-understand tips on what you should do to stand out from the crowd.

Tip#1 Applying to reach schools early can be helpful.

 

Early in the admissions cycle, colleges/universities have fewer applications hence there is less competition for those few coveted seats. However, I would apply to my slam dunk schools first so I know I have a home in the fall and likely a substantial financial aid package.

 

Tip#2: Spice up your academic profile.

 

Take a look at your high school performance and SAT/ACT scores and compare them with the schools you are interested in. Then separate the schools on your list into three categories. Reach the academic profile of an admitted student and make sure your profile exceeds theirs.

 

Tip #3: Consider Career Clusters.

 

Career Clusters are groups of occupations, for example, Health Services or Education. They cover some similar or related types of work. Most students will change major, yet many will stay within the same cluster of careers. A student may opt not to continue to pursue a medical degree to become a nurse. Or rather than pursue a career in psychology they would rather be a school, counselor. Many undergraduate programs are career flexible and you can achieve your future career goal if you are aware of the various types of majors that will help you achieve your aim.

 

Related: iSeek’s comprehensive list of Career Clusters

Related: Pathsource iOs app – Careers based on your personality.

 

Tip #4: It Ain’t About The Money.

 

Since the economic decline of 2008, cost have been an important factor in the college selection process. There many ways to mitigate this issue. At your slam dunk schools, your application will shine bright like a diamond and you can expect healthier financial aid packages based on your academic profile.  However, every institution has admissions priorities. A tech school may need more women, a Midwestern school may want more geographic diversity, and some may want more students scoring 28+ on the ACT. If you are an admissions priority, you can expect a better financial package to make their campus more attractive to you. Students in California can actually attend colleges outside the state and spend less of their hard earned cash which will lead to less debt upon graduation. The Western Undergraduate Exchange or W.U.E allows students to attend for 150% in-state tuition. Many times savings is well over $20,000.

 

Tip #5: Broaden Your Horizon

 

Many students choose to go to school close to home. If you are in California, that can lead to some thin envelopes and greater debt. Consider all your options in-state and out to make an informed decision. You can use the 4YearTrip app available on and to find Universities near you.Too many times, California students will not find schools in nearby states such as Arizona, Nevada, and/or Oregon complaining about the distance from home.

Related: 4YearTrip App (iOS) (Android) – Career Fairs, Scholarships, and University locator.

 

Tips for Cali Students:  if you live in Southern California, Humboldt State is more than 10 hours away compared to Nevada, and Arizona which are 4 and 6 respectively. Newsflash, California is big. There are a lot of worlds to see, go check some of it out and have the experience of a lifetime.

 

I hope some of this will help and make you think. A little time will make all the difference.

 

 

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Justin Yuille has a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and a minor in Chemistry and a Master’s degree in Counseling Credential. Justin has worked as a teacher, middle and high school counselor, and an admissions counselor for Universities. He is passionate about helping students achieve their life goals. His personal interests are his family and friends, but he also enjoys fishing, music, and technology.

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