Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How to Survive Getting Into College

How to Survive Getting Into College (Hundreds of Heads Books,, $13.95) offers real-world tips and advice from hundreds of former high school seniors who have been through the college admissions process and succeeded. The book follows in the footsteps of Hundreds of Heads’ bestselling college life guide, How to Survive Your Freshman Year – and contains the best tips, stories, and advice on the college application process based on interviews with students from over 100 colleges—both public and private—across the country.

The book was edited by former Ivy League college admissions officer, Rachel Korn., who offers great tips for acing the admissions processand getting into the college of your dreams. Korn says admissions officers focus on three important factors in students’ applications:

1. A genuine feel for the applicant's personality.

2. A contribution to the school.

3. Whether the applicant is maximizing their environment and their talents.

Korn, points out in How to Survive Getting Into College that an applicant can never know too much about their target schools. She says:

1. Research, research, research. Through the school’s website and/or a college tour, learn as much as possible about the school’s academic and cultural atmosphere. Knowledge about the university will prepare the applicant to sit down and successfully complete the application.

2. Tailor the application to the school - know the characteristics it values. Convey through essays how the school “matches” the student. Listen to admissions officers' presentations and glean from reading school materials if there are initiatives (especially new ones) that should be mentioned.

3. Let college counselor and teachers know about you top choice and why. They can reflect that in their letters to bolster the student’s sincerity to the admissions committee. DO NOT attempt this with a school that is not a favorite. Admissions officers will figure it out.

Korn also shares some of the top mistakes students make in applying to schools, including:

1. Failure to research. Apply ONLY to schools where there is a match with interests (size, academics, culture).

2. Seeking a "big name" for a recommendation and thinking that this is the ticket into a school. Recommenders who know the student best are those to choose. A fancy title is not impressive if the recommender does not know the person.

3. Using public websites to try to predict chances of admissions or to learn about a school. NO ONE can predict chances of admission, certainly not peers who see nothing more than lists of grades and activities.

Finally, Korn offers these top 5 tips for acing the college admissions processand getting into the college of your dreams (for more – buy the book!):

1. APPLY to about 5 or 6 schools with a few true safety schools (including at least 1 public school) and a few reach schools.

2. WRITE an essay that shows what makes you tick - do not write an essay that you think an admissions committee wants to read.

3. ASK questions of your interviewer - the interview is a two-way street and you should approach the interview as a conversation.

4. FIND positive, true passions to fill your time - there is no "right" activity, so choose a passion not an obvious resume builder.

5. DRESS to casually impress when you visit schools - you never know, you could meet your admissions officer.

Excerpted from How to Survive Getting Into College (Hundreds of Heads Books,, $13.95, ISBN 1-933512-05-9), available at your favorite bookstore or online bookseller. Hundreds of Heads Books’ offer the wisdom of the masses by assembling the experiences and advice of hundreds of people who have gone through life’s biggest challenges and have insight to share. Visit to share your advice or get more information. And for some free, weekly advice for entering freshmen – sign up for the Hundreds of Heads “Advicemail” series, at

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