The College Whisperer's colleague, Allen Grove of's Guide to College Admissions posted a top ten list of sorts to improve your chances of getting into college:

A winning college application is about more than strong grades or high test scores. To get admitted to the country's most selective colleges, applicants will need to put together an application that shines in all areas. Click on the tips below to learn about some of the features of a strong application.

  1. Take challenging classes

  2. Write a winning essay

  3. Avoid these essay topics

  4. Get strong letters of recommendation

  5. Avoid these 6 application blunders

  6. Participate in meaningful extracurricular activities

  7. Master these college interview questions

  8. Avoid these college interview mistakes

  9. Delete these 12 Facebook photos now

  10. Demonstrate your interest

As per usual, Allen is right on target. And not just on admission to the "most selective colleges." Guess what? They are all becoming selective as more and more students compete each year for the same number of seats offered the year before.

Of course, many items on the list -- if not all -- rekindle the old Steve Martin skit, How to make a million dollars. "First, get a million dollars..." Sound advice, indeed!

The rigor of your courseload. The strength and breadth of your extracurriculars. Demonstrating your passion, your commitment, your connection to the human race through your essays. And, of course, becoming master of your GPA, SAT and ACT.

Granted, you are more than your SAT Super Score, and that 1 on the Chemistry AP does not define you, but striking up the right balance of grades and groundwork, enthusiasm and empathy, are the very building blocks upon which college admission success stands.

Understanding exactly (or nearly, as there are few absolutes in college admissions) which colleges offer the best fit for you, what those colleges in particular are looking for in a student, and how to both prepare and present yourself to these colleges in a light that most favorably shines upon you (as in, "that's the kid we're looking for!"), are the key elements to gaining admission to the college of your choice.

Anyone can apply, anywhere. The question remains, in this competitive environment, with colleges become more selective, seemingly by the hour, can you get in?

To be well informed, as to process, mindset, timing and, yes, the manner in which successful applicants must package and market themselves, is to be well situated at the ivy-covered gates (and not only at Ivy League schools).

Accentuating your best attributes. Turning weaknesses into perceived strengths. Giving yourself that competitive edge, often yield positive results.

Is a student with a 4.00 GPA (4.25 weighted :-) and a 2400 SAT guaranteed admission to Harvard. No. Is your typical B student with middle of the road scores automatically shut out from Michigan? Absolutely not!

Clearly, you can't make something out of nothing. Grades count. Scores matter. The 4-year stint as couch potato and that essay on how you watched every episode of Law & Order in a single sitting won't be of much help.

On the other hand, making the most of what you have -- and being certain that you have what you need -- can make the difference between "Welcome to the Class of 2017" and "While your application was impressive, we regret to inform you..."

Plan. Prepare. Prevail!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.

Who knows what peril lurks in the college application and admissions process?
The College Whisperer knows. . .

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