Harvard University rejected a record 93% of their applicants in 2008

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Harvard University rejected a record 93% of their applicants in 2008.

While applying to college isn't that hard, getting in can be, especially if you are trying to get into a competitive school. The first thing we want to mention here is that you should pick a range of colleges that are likely to admit you and with which you'd be comfortable attending. This means being honest with yourself and doing your homework when conducting your search. This will help you avoid lots of stress. A Harvard education is a fine education but in the end your character, work ethic and desire to achieve is going to be far more important. If you're ready to explore how to apply to college, we'll cover the items you need to know, share important dates on our college application calendar, and provide some insightful tips and resources to help. Let's get started.

OK, so now you've completed your college search and have your list of colleges ready, you should first check to see if they work with The Common Application, a not-for-profit organization that serves students and member institutions by providing an admission application (online and in print) that students may submit to any of our nearly 300 schools. If you are fortunate enough to have some or all your choices on their list you should download the application forms. For schools not working with The Common Application you will need to go to the school's website and request your application materials. Most colleges offer them online!

You should make a list of all your deadlines and keep them someplace important. Generally, application packets are due before January 1 of the year you want to attend the college. January 1 may be the last date they can be received so you should send them well before. Missing an application deadline automatically means that you've missed your chance to apply. If you are trying to apply for an early decision, the deadline is usually November 1.

Schools have different criteria for accepting early decision applicants. Some schools look for GPA, test scores and or specific coursework. You should review the admissions section of your college's website for details. Most schools will allow you to apply online which saves you having to worry about loose sheets of paper, white-out and messy handwriting! Fill out your applications at your own pace, and come back as often as you like until you are finished. Your data is encrypted for maximum security, and your private account can be accessed only by you.

Essays can be uploaded directly into your online application, and each online application you start will contain your profile information so that you don't have to re-enter it each time! You will also be provided a handy checklist to ensure that you are completing each step in the application process. It doesn't get much easier than that! If you're doing a paper application, remember neatness counts so you'll want to print or type perfectly

Most colleges will need a copy of your test scores from the SAT test or ACT test . When taking the test, you can request that they be sent to up to six different colleges. Otherwise, maybe if you're a junior, you can request that their sent closer to when you actually apply to college. As with all your application materials, make sure you allow enough time for your request to be processed and sent.

All colleges will want an official copy of your academic transcripts as part of the application package. Most colleges will require that your school send your transcripts directly to their admissions office. To be safe, leave plenty of time for your high school registrar to process your request. Most high schools have their own transcript request forms, but some don't. Find out from your school guidance counselor what your school requires to obtain an official transcript for when you apply to college. Give your high school at least three weeks’ notice prior to the deadline. This way, you can make sure your transcripts will arrive at your colleges on time. Some colleges also require a Secondary School Report and/or a Seventh Semester Grade Report to track your academic progress during the fall semester. Check to see which colleges want these reports and submit a request to your high school at the same time you submit your request for transcripts. A number of colleges may request that you send a copy of your official transcript along with your application. In that case, simply enclose the sealed envelope with the rest of your application. Do not break the seal on the envelope or your transcripts will not be accepted!

The most time-consuming and difficult part when students apply to college is the essay. The personal essay is usually about 300 to 500 words in length, occasionally longer, depending on the college.

Here are some college essay tips: Pick a topic that is unique and original. Use dialogue or humorous anecdotes to spice up your essay. Don't just repeat what people said; quote them to bring the essay alive for the reader. Prepare to write a few drafts and if possible sleep on them as you might think differently (and better) tomorrow when you re-read what you've done. This will also help you develop your own voice in your essay and help you organize your thoughts more clearly. Have several people look over your drafts and offer their comments and suggestions. Always check for spelling and grammar. We can't stress this enough!

Many colleges will require two or three letters of recommendation when you apply. They are looking for letters from high school teachers, coaches, guidance counselors or others who know you in an academic or leadership capacity. Here are some hints: Start early: Approach your potential letter-writers about two months prior to the actual due-date of the letters with your request. Teachers and guidance counselors are usually swamped with term papers and other college application requests toward the end of the fall semester, so allow them plenty of time to address your needs. Choose carefully: When requesting a letter of recommendation, pick someone whom you feel knows you well. Prepare the recommendation letter writer: Give each of your letter-writers one page of information about yourself. This information will help the letter-writer compose a thoughtful and accurate recommendation. Make sure to provide your letter-writers with stamped envelopes addressed to your colleges--don't count on them to take this responsibility! Keep track of the deadlines: Do not hesitate to remind your letter-writers of deadlines. People do forget, and you don't want the admissions office to be waiting for this last piece of your application. Most colleges will not review your application until all parts have been received.

Most colleges don't require an interview; however, there are many benefits to meeting face-to-face with an admissions officer after you apply to a college. Perhaps you don't think your college application presented the real you or you want to learn more about the school. You might want a chance to explain why your grades slipped or why your test scores were not as good as they could have been. Think of the college interview as a chance to show that you're more than just test scores and grades. It's an exchange of information, you learn about the college and the college learns about you. It can last anywhere from 30-60 minutes. It's normal to be nervous but it will help to keep in mind that interviewers are more interested in learning about you than hearing right or wrong answers; otherwise a paper test would have sufficed. Relax, be yourself and it's ok to be nervous.

To give you an idea of what kind of questions you will be asked, here is a list of common college interview questions. Try to develop answers to these questions for yourself and use them in your mock interviews. Why do you want to attend X university? What is your strongest/weakest point? What have you done to prepare for college? What has been your greatest experience in high school? What do you want to do in the future? Tell me about yourself. (You should focus on about three things.) Tell me about your interests. Tell me about your involvement in extracurricular activities. Tell me about your family. What do you think about (insert a current event of the past week)? What is your favorite book? Who is your favorite author? Which of your accomplishments are you the most proud of? If you could meet any important figure in the past or present, who would it be and what would you talk about?

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