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While doing your college planning, you have probably developed an idea of what you’re looking for in a college. Here’s another thing to think about: Do you know what colleges are looking for in a student?

The college admissions process works kind of like a relationship. A good match occurs when you and a school are well suited to one another. By building strong college credentials in the form of an impressive academic performance and proof of commitment and leadership in extracurricular activities, you can improve your chances in the selective college admissions process.

To get into college, consider the school’s selectivity factor

You don’t have to be the best student in the world to go to college, but you do need to be a competitor. Most students think that “selective” colleges are academically elite colleges. That’s not always true.

When talking about colleges, selectivity is more a matter of supply and demand. The more students there are competing for a given amount of seats on the campus, the more selective the school can be in filling them. Why? The school has more choices.

Every college determines what it’s looking for, but the best thing you can do to increase your chances of getting in is to apply to schools for which you’re well-suited in terms of academics, test scores, and other credentials.

Here is what you can do to help yourself go to college

First things first. Invest some energy in your report card, even during your senior year! However, academics are only one part of the credentials equation. To really compete in the college admissions arena, you need to make the most of your talents. How? Nurture them!

Give yourself some credit

This is not the time for modesty. Think about those things you do well and write them down. List everything you can think of!

There’s no place like home

Your family can be a great source of insight on your talents and abilities. Talk to the folks who know you best.

Take it to the next level

Once you’ve identified your talents, amplify them! Broaden and deepen your involvement throughout your high school career. Don’t try to do everything, but see which talents and interests really fit into your college plan and your long-term goals. Develop those aspects of yourself and make them part of your college prep.

Once you’ve figured out what sets you apart, the trick will be to make sure that your prospective colleges know those things about you. At some level, you have to compete to get into college—any college! These things that make you who you are and set you apart are the heart of what you want to communicate to the people in the college admissions offices, both during interviews and in your admission essay.

Last but not least, have fun!