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Tips for College Admissions Success

College applications, especially at top colleges, have surged in recent years. And the numbers paint a clear story—getting into college isn’t getting any easier.

In preparation for this year’s college application season, Money asked Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid at Wesleyan University, his best tips for applicants.


Experts have long stressed the importance of fit when it comes to college. Sure, prestige can be great too, but a successful college experience is highly dependent on how well a student aligns with a school’s education, culture, and location.

“In other words, don’t be driven exclusively by things like prestige or rank or cost, but rather, things that are particular to your learning style, interests and preferences,” Gonzalez says.


Authenticity is key to making your application unique. Too often, experts say, applicants stress over trying to gain an edge over other applicants when, in reality it’s more important to be consistent in showing your authentic self to admissions officers.

“By ‘consistent,’ I mean [that] the essay aligns with the description of the student in their recommendations, and what comes through in interviews aligns with their activities, interests and performance — so the admissions officer feels they’re meeting the same student at every turn in the process,” Gonzalez says.


The college application process takes time—especially if you’re putting in the effort to make each individual college essay and application stand out. Experts say it’s important to start the process early, but also stress the importance of taking your time to develop the strongest application possible.

“You want to present yourself in the best possible light, and that might mean applying at a later deadline so you can submit a more robust and thoughtful application that includes a well-developed essay, more informed and enthusiastic recommendation letters, and a strong showing in a rigorous senior fall program,” Gonzalez says. You want to submit the best version of yourself.”

Sources: Money, The New York Times

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