a keyboard with a button that says

13 Ways to Improve Your College Admission Luck

You have more power than you think when it comes to your college applications. Follow these tips to increase your chances of admission to your dream school!

Do you believe in the power of superstition? If so, maybe you're keeping your fingers crossed and holding your breath until your college admission letters come back. But there’s a better way to tip the scales in your favor—after all, the best luck is the kind you create yourself. Here are 13 tips for making sure you hit a lucky streak with your college applications.

1. Save the dates 

Now's the time to create a planning system that works for you to keep track of important due dates and upcoming interviews. There's an app for everything nowadays, and if a digital organization method is your jam, go for it. However, a paper planner might help you remember events more effectively, so consider going analog and writing everything down. 

2. Maintain your grades

Is senioritis already taking a bite out of your motivation? Resist the urge to cave into laziness! Colleges retain the right to revoke admission for poor second-semester grades, so even if all your applications are in, it’s important to keep your grades up.

Related: Video: 3 Tips to Avoid Senioritis

3. Make a top 10 list 

Most students have a dream school and several backups. Making a contingency plan is smart. Write down a list of desirable schools, starting with the one you love most and ending with one you at least like and know you can get into. Even if you think you’re done applying, you may want to submit a few more applications, just in case.

4. Talk to your counselor 

Your high school counselor can give you practical tips to boost your applications. They can also suggest activities that make you a more appealing candidate. While you’re visiting them, use them as a resource to discuss your college admission headaches. School counselors are good for lending an ear and providing advice backed by experience.

5. Fill out your FAFSA early

Even if your parents plan to help you out, odds are you’ll need a way to fund your education. Start applying for financial aid early so you don't set your sights on a school out of your price range. Your parents will do their part, but you have to do yours too. 

6. Ask for letters of recommendation

A well-written letter of recommendation can make the difference between getting in or sitting on a waitlist, especially if other parts of your application need improvements. Talk to your guidance counselors and teachers well in advance so they don't feel rushed. Chances are you're not the only student asking for a reference, so give them plenty of time to prepare a winning one.

Related: Top 5 Questions About Recommendation Letters, Answered

7. Apply for school-specific scholarships 

Since you have a list of preferred schools to work from, begin applying for scholarships over break. Depending on how a school offers aid and how much, use this information to change around your preferred school list.

8. Revise your application essays 

A heartwarming and well-composed college admission essay is your best defense if your grades are lacking. How you write the essay can show you have the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. Go over it several times and ask friends and family to proofread. If you struggle with writing, consider working with a tutor. It might cost a little, but it’s for your future.

Related: Why Your College Application Essay Matters

9. Review all supplementary information 

Some colleges ask for more than an essay or two. Some colleges ask for other supplemental material. They may request a portfolio of your work if you're applying to an art program or another program for which a special application is required. They may also require interviews. If so, schedule these in your calendar and start preparing as soon as you set the appointment. 

10. Maximize your extracurricular engagement

Colleges give preference to students who make a difference in their communities or go above and beyond in other areas. So volunteer with an organization that supports a cause you care about, or attend an educational event you can add to your applications. Walk dogs for the local Humane Society, pick up litter clogging scenic byways, or search for a college and career conference in your area—it all rounds out your application

11. Find work over break

If you're funding your education personally, use school breaks to get a jump on your savings. Many stores hire temporary workers during and even after the holidays to help with the busy season and the returns rush. You could also shovel driveways for your neighbors in a pinch. This experience looks good to colleges because it shows you are a go-getter and hard worker.

12. Make a second calendar 

Sometimes you send out applications and don't hear anything for a considerable time. While colleges typically will send a rejection letter if you aren’t admitted, mistakes happen. Set dates to contact any school you don't hear back from. 

13. Be prepared to follow up 

College admission offices are really busy during application season. But you also need to be on top of your applications, because you don't want to miss an opportunity due to oversight. Resolve to start checking your email twice daily—now, not January 1. Respond immediately to any requests for further information. Most colleges will give you an online portal to check your status.

You don't have to rely on good fortune to get into your dream school. By following these tips, you can create your own luck and set yourself up for the future.

Do you have all the information you need about your dream schools? Find it with our College Search tool!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:
application essay college admission college applications the college search

About Alyssa Abel

Alyssa Abel

Alyssa Abel is an education writer who helps students and teachers pursue their passions. Read more of her work on Syllabusy

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
CollegeXpress Logo

$10,000

Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway

Trevor

Trevor

High School Class of 2020

CollegeXpress was able to give me a short summary, background, and helpful tips about Bob Jones University The information given was helpful in allowing me to understand and read about personal experiences while at Bob Jones.

Kory Gilbertson

Kory Gilbertson

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me explore my views on college in that "why do I wanna go to a certain school" way. It’s helped me explore the best fits in all of these outstanding choices. All these college admission counselors can access my accolades showing them how I could help their college. This source of information helps me show these admission directors who I am and what I'm interested in. Thanks to this platform, my experience for education will be better than most, and I'm so grateful for all that it has provided for me.

Joan Franklin

Joan Franklin

Counselor

I love this website and have been using it for years with my students. I originally bought products through Wintergreen Orchard House and appreciated having key facts at my fingertips when advising students. Your site is easy to access and offers a wide array of topics I need as a busy college counselor.

Sadie Hartmann

Sadie Hartmann

High School Class of 2021

I'm a senior in high school, and CollegeXpress has helped me in so many ways this year in trying to navigate the process of deciding and committing to a university. The COVID-19 Student Resource Center has helped me many times with the most up-to-date and accurate information, along with financial aid and student life [advice]. During these uncertain times, CollegeXpress has been a great recourse to relieve the stress as a senior. Along with the COVID-19 Student Resource Center, I'm constantly using the extremely helpful tools off the site to aid me during this stressful process. Tools like the lists and rankings of universities have been the most beneficial. I've also used the site to receive expert advice on topics like financial aid. Finally, CollegeXpress has helped me easily apply for several scholarships. I'm thankful to be given the chance to win a scholarship to lessen the burden of my college debt.

Jeannie Borin, M.Ed.

Jeannie Borin, M.Ed.

President and Founder, College Connections

I frequently visit CollegeXpress to answer questions from students and parents. There are countless hot topics in admissions that need to be addressed. I enjoy reading what my colleagues post and gain additional insight from different perspectives.

College Matches