Getting into college used to be difficult. Well, guess what, it’s becoming even more so.

Admission rates are plummeting; as schools turn away top candidates, high school students are asking what they can do to increase their chances of getting in.

Most “experts” I’ve come across continue to spit out advice about how high school students should just take it easy and just do what we want to do and that life will be fine… but let’s get serious! These days, most people can’t do much without a college education, and it’s imperative that we get into a top school. Obviously, there are successful people who didn’t go to great colleges or universities, but this blog is dedicated to discussion from those of us who do think getting into a top college is integral to success.

Hopefully, you’ll find and/or contribute some truly helpful advice about what it takes to become an admit. Enjoy, and good luck.


15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gettingin  |  September 3, 2006 at 11:22 pm

    Hi, I’m a former Ivy League admissions officer who just started a blog of my own (gettingin.wordpress.com). I’m hoping to leverage my site to help seniors work on their college essays (as it’s one of the most important pieces of the application) and better understand the college admissions process. I’ll definitely be peeking at your blog from time to time to see your take on things.

  • 2. Dee  |  September 5, 2006 at 7:59 am

    It’s great to see that there’s a few of us blogging about “getting in!” Thanks for your comment! I’ve added you to the AdmitSpit blogroll. Good luck!

  • 3. Eric  |  November 2, 2006 at 1:39 am

    I was delighted to discover this blog today. Providing college admissions from the perspective of students is certainly lacking on the web and blogosphere. A few months back I teamed with some Princeton classmates to launch ePrep as a free resource for students and parents on admissions and financial aid. I’m looking forward to following your dialog.

  • 4. Aaron  |  November 12, 2006 at 8:18 pm

    I am so glad I found this. I’ve been only browsing, but I’ve found some great stuff. Thanks.

  • 5. Gail  |  November 15, 2006 at 11:38 am

    Help – my son decided to add one sentence to his essay after he copied it into his application form and submitted it with a TYPOGRAPHICAL ERROR! What do we do? Will his application automatically be dropped!

  • 6. louuuuu  |  January 9, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    Hi! I am an applicant of the UC and now it’s time to update my application. One section asked applicants to provide information related to academic record. One example of what the school wants us to report is “If you know that your academic performance in your final semester will significantly improve, please explain what circumstances have changed in your life that will enable you to earn higher grades.” Does providing this kind of information matter? Thanks

  • 7. horace ward  |  February 16, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    My son who is twelve and in the 7th grade would like to attend a Ivy league school. He recently took the SAT and scored 1720, i.e. CR = 660; Math = 540; Writing = 520. Do you have any proven tools to help raise his score to acceptable Ivy league level within the next four years?

  • 8. Robin Dean  |  February 17, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    I just heard through the grapevine that students who apply to both UCLA and UC Berkeley are only admitted to one or the other but not both. I really want to go to UCLA but also applied to Berkeley even though it is not one of my top schools. Does anyone know if this is true and if I can withdraw my Berkeley app?

  • 9. czlaw  |  February 21, 2007 at 7:06 am

    Robin, don’t listen to the grapevine. It is absolutely untrue that you can only be accepted to either UC Berkeley or UCLA. Both schools have their own admissions readers and their own policies on who gets in. They do not compare acceptances, nor do they meter them out between them. Assuming you have the grades/test scores and requirements to get a good score under the holistic/comprehensive review process, your application will stand on its own merit at each school. If you don’t get into both, it won’t be because of some rumored “behind the scenes” collusion between them.
    Carolyn Lawrence, independent college planner.

  • 10. czlaw  |  February 21, 2007 at 7:22 am

    You are probably not going to like the advice I have to give you for your son, but here it is any way.

    Don’t start stressing yourself or – perhaps more importantly – stressing out your son – over college admissions. He is 12. Much can, and will change, over the next five years. There is a world of difference between what a 12 year old child supposedly wants, and what a 17 or 18 year old young adult wants and eventually decides on.

    The best thing you can do to help your son attend the best college for him is to not make the next five years of his life be solely about getting into college. Work with his middle school and high school to make sure he is taking appropriate courses, give him lots of opportunities to read for pleasure, and let him develop and explore his own interests and talents, not those someone deems “the best” for admissions purposes.

    Colleges and universities aren’t looking for robots who have had parents pushing them towards “the Ivy league” since birth. They’re looking for people who are real 17 and 18 year olds, who have a sense of themselves, who have, in short, done more in high school than just worry about prepping for the SATs or getting into the Ivy League.

    So, make sure he’s taking courses that are challenging, encourage him to read for pleasure, and listen to what he says about what he truly loves doing, not what you think he should be doing to “prep” for college admissions. When it comes time for him to look at colleges (in junior year of high school!), don’t already have your mind made up that he’ll attend an “ivy League” school – keep an open mind about the full range of wonderful schools out there, and listen to what your 17 or 18 year old son wants, not what you think your 12 year old son wants. That is the BEST way to help your son find and get into the right college match.

    I would also highly recommend that you buy a copy of a book on college admissions written by the director of admissions at MIT, Marilee Jones. It’s called Less Stress, More Success.

    Life is short. Don’t waste the last years of your son’s childhood stressing him and yourself out over college admissions. Enjoy who he is, encourage him to try new things, watch him grow, and all will work out just fine.

    Carolyn Lawrence, independent college counselor

  • 11. freshman  |  March 6, 2007 at 3:32 am

    I dont know when to take the bio e/m sat subjuct test. the one in june is the weekend before finals and the one in may seems too soon.

  • 12. Les  |  April 19, 2007 at 3:25 am

    I am not a college counselor but only a parent of a junior in high school now looking into colleges. But I totally agree with Carolyn Lawrence”s response to Horace on his 12 year old son. His son took the SAT!!!! Oh my god, it is too, too young. He won’t be thinking about college in 4 years, he will be burnt out. Please let him have a life as a kid in school. That doesn’t mean he can’t study and do well, but don’t put such huge pressure on him at that young of an age that he must get into an Ivy League school. He can have goals and aspirations, and he can do things to get closer to them especially by developing good study habits and expand his interests, but don’t have him studying for the SATs. It could just all backfire and he may resent school and college after a while. Encourage him but don’t stress him out.

  • 13. arun  |  June 25, 2007 at 11:06 am

    i have a sort of complex problem .i hope u solve it . i am an indian student and am going to start my senior year.As i have a greencard, i might be completing my school in california,while my parents r here in india.So the question is will i be qualifing for in-state fee in california after attending 1 year of school in california ?

  • 14. app2usadvisor  |  June 27, 2007 at 5:05 am

    I write about University admissions – primarily for international applicants.

  • 15. cmh  |  September 9, 2007 at 6:03 am

    Dear Horace,

    I’m a junior right now and I see some parallels between your son and me. I too took the SAT in 7th and 8th grade. I scored decently, somewhere in the 500s or 600s range for M and V (it was the old SAT back then).

    To be honest, 7th grade is way too early to be thinking about college. It appears that your son has high hopes, and that’s great: he’s thinking about his future. Let him be ambitious, but don’t make which college he goes to life or death. You don’t want him to end up as a shell of a human being who never sees the light of day. He needs to develop a personality: interests in extracurriculars, sports, etc. Let high school happen for him. I let high school happen to me.

    I’ve never taken a SAT course in my life. I practice, that’s for sure, but I haven’t stressed out over the SAT and colleges until this year (when I started preparing for the test). I’ve found that my score has naturally increased after all these years, and I’m scoring consistently 2250-2400 in the practice books (they don’t give you an exact score, just a range…). I’ll take it in January or March. In addition, I’ve got two 800’s under my belt in SAT subject tests.

    The point is that your son still has many years to develop. Let him enjoy life for now, so that when he gets to be a junior (and starts to spend weekends studying for tests or AP classes), he’s happy that he had a childhood. The number one thing that will increase his SAT scores is developing as a person. He shouldn’t prepare now because it’s too early.


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