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How to Get into a Top College or University

Apply these strategies to gain entry to academia at a top college or university and fulfilll your educational dreams.


  • Step 1: Get excited about learning Get excited about learning long before you start looking at colleges and universities. If you don't like school, it'll be harder to excel.
  • Step 2: Focus on academics Focus on academics during your grade school years to develop a foundation of strong organizational, reading, and study skills.
  • TIP: Attend summer science or math programs to generate enthusiasm about academic possibilities.
  • Step 3: Get top grades Get top grades in the hardest classes, beginning with your freshman year -- the best schools require a 3.75 or higher grade point average.
  • TIP: Become a well-rounded person by joining clubs, taking leadership roles, and participating in a variety of extracurricular activities.
  • Step 4: Prepare for standardized tests Prepare for SAT or ACT tests, taking advantage of tutors, preparation courses, practice tests, and guides. Consider taking the tests a second or third time to achieve your best possible scores.
  • Step 5: Apply early Apply for admission early to emphasize your commitment to the school.
  • Step 6: Write a dynamite essay Write a dynamite essay with a strong opener to demonstrate positive personal qualities and to establish a distinctive identity with admission officers.
  • Step 7: Submit stellar recommendations Accompany application submissions with stellar recommendations from two teachers and one guidance counselor. With these strategies in place, your hopes for entry to a top college or university are on solid ground.
  • FACT: About 18 million students are enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities.

You Will Need

  • Educational support materials and opportunities
  • 3.75 GPA or higher
  • SAT or ACT preparatory resources
  • High SAT and ACT scores
  • Compelling application essay
  • Outstanding recommendations
  • Summer programs (optional)
  • Clubs and extracurricular activities (optional)

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