Sending in your college applications—and waiting to hear back—is a rite of passage that can inspire excitement, glee, stress, and anxiety in equal measure. But when you learn more about what colleges are looking for, you’ll spend less time worrying and more time looking forward to the next stage of your life.
This section provides an overview of college application basics, as well as advice on how to put together the strongest application you can. But it’s only a starting point. Applying to college is a long process, and getting accepted to the right college requires planning, dedication, a lot of effort, and—yes—some luck. If you’re aiming for the Ivy League or other highly selective schools, you should expect to be thinking about your application years before you send it in. It’s like preparing for a concert: you have to learn the instrument before you learn the song.
But you should also recognize that applying to college is about finding the school that’s right for you. You’re choosing a school just as much as schools are choosing you. This is your chance to think about what you want to do and where you want to spend the next four years of your life.
For admissions—think about what you can contribute to the university. Everyone is going to be smart, have good grades and test scores, and have held leadership positions. What makes you uniquely positioned to bring something to THEM? -Katherine G., Duke TIP alum