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Good news: The odds are in your favor.

  • There is a college out there for you: 70 percent of colleges accept 70 percent of their applicants.
  • Virtually all people who really want to go to college can go to college. There are no real barriers. Many people think they can't afford college. They look at the tuition price tag and freak out. Don't worry, fat price tags can be misleading. If you need money for college it is available. In fact, the more for college you need the more you will probably get, and, often, more will likely be in the form of scholarships and grants that you won't have to pay off.
  • Test scores and grades do matter, so take them seriously: 40 percent of four-year schools reported that they had minimum test score requirements for college admission. Grades in college preparatory courses and admissions test scores were the two factors most likely to be accorded "considerable importance" in college admissions. Your numbers aren't the end-all, but good scores can make your path easier.

Standing Out

There is a very powerful way to differentiate yourself from other teenagers applying to college: Take up a Non-Teenager Activity, or NTA. NTAs are activities that teenagers typically don't do. These are activities dominated by adults, or tasks that no one else does. Either way, an NTA will help you stand out from other teenagers

To start your NTA, do something you wouldn't normally consider doing. NTAs aren't your run-of-the-mill activity.

  • Non-teenager activities, NTAs, with bigger impacts are better. Having your painting displayed at city hall is better than having mom display your work on the refrigerator door.
  • Every high school year book in the country is put together by teenagers. It's a good learning experience, but it won't necessarily help you stand out. Do the yearbook, but also do an non-teenager activity.
  • There are more than 26,000 high schools in the United States. That means there are 26,000 football captains, 26,000 prom queens and 26,000 valedictorians. If you want to stand out to a college you've got to really stand out.

Lastly

  • Get to know your teachers. If you know your teachers they will be better equipped to write your college recommendation letters.

For Juniors: Where to Begin

Gearing up to apply to college next fall takes time and focus. Juniors should be developing concrete lists of criteria and putting their criteria in priority order. Read More