Simple Tips for Bulking Up Your Community College Application

Simple Tips for Bulking Up Your Community College Application
Though many people assume community college is easier than "real" college, you still need to have a strong application if you want to get in. Keep reading to learn more.

Though many people assume that community college is somehow less of a “real” school than traditional colleges and universities, students at a community college must go through the same admissions process. Community colleges each have their own set of requirements for potential students which vary depending on a number of factors. The size of the school, its location, and the programs offered will all affect the admissions process.

Though each school is unique in terms of its requirements, the same basic rules apply to all college applicants. You’ll need to have some kind of standardized test score (either SAT or ACT) and a high school transcript. You may be required to submit letters of recommendation and some kind of personal essay. The admissions team will also want to know about any extra-curricular activities you’ve been involved in because they are looking to create a diverse, well-rounded student body. Keep reading to learn some simple tips for bulking up your community college application.

What Do Admissions Officers Look For?

When a college admissions officer looks over your application, there are several things they’re going to look for. First of all, they’re going to look at your high school transcript but, despite what you might have been told, your grades aren’t the only thing they consider. More important than the grades you get in your classes are the classes themselves as well as the difficulty of the high school curriculum as a whole. Admissions officers look to make sure that students take at least five courses each semester and AP or honors classes are weighted a little higher if you get good grades in them. Having a slightly lower grade in a more challenging course is usually viewed as more favorable than higher grades in easy courses.

This video explains how to impress colleges with activities on your application.

In addition to your grades, college admissions officers also look at your SAT and ACT scores. What they want to see here is consistency – your SAT or ACT score should be consistent with your GPA. For the most part, high SAT or ACT scores will not compensate for low grades in your classes. Keep in mind that some schools also have a minimum score range they accept, so be sure to check on that before you submit your application to ensure you meet the minimum requirements.

Outside of academics, college admissions officers also want to see that you are involved in activities and that you make meaningful use of your free time. They don’t want to see that you are a member of every club the school offers – they want to see that you are passionately involved in a few activities and that you demonstrate leadership abilities. In addition to extra-curricular activities, admissions officers may also consider any work or volunteer experience you have. These things communicate responsibility and dedication, both of which are valuable to an admissions officer.

Community Service Ideas

Participating in extra-curricular activities is what most high school graduates think makes them well-rounded. What schools are really looking for, however, is a student who takes on responsibility and gets involved in the community. If you’re looking for community service ideas to add to your application, here are a few you might consider:

  • Use skill to help others. Do you have a particular skill? If so, find a way to use it to help others. For example, if you’re good with computers you might teach a computer class to seniors at a local assisted living facility.
  • Get involved with your church. If you attend church, there are countless volunteer opportunities to choose from that may range from working at a soup kitchen to running a clothing drive.
  • Organize a charity event. Is there a particular charity that you want to support? Organize a fundraising event to benefit that charity!
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food bank. Most cities have soup kitchens and food banks that need volunteers – all you have to do is look!
  • Make hygiene kits for the homeless. Most larger cities have large homeless populations – a great service project is putting together and distributing hygiene kits and/or clothing for the homeless.

Community service can be just about anything – it’s more about why you do it than what you’re doing. Keep reading to learn other ways to bulk up your application.

Madeleine Fiore offers 20 community service ideas in the following video.

Other Ways to Bulk Up Your Application

In addition to doing more community service, there are a few other things that look good on a college application. Here are some other ways to bulk up your application:

  • Get an internship. In a way, an internship is like a job, except you probably won’t get paid. Try to find an internship that is relevant to your career path or at least in an area that interests you.
  • Get a job. Another way to demonstrate responsibility and leadership potential to a college admissions team is getting a job. It doesn’t matter so much what the job is as long as you work hard.
  • Take a summer class. If your GPA is a little low or you don’t yet have the necessary prerequisites, consider taking a summer class to show admissions that you’re taking your education seriously.
  • Become a tutor. Working as a tutor is a great work experience and it will show the admissions team that you have leadership potential.
  • Enroll in a summer program. Some colleges offer summer programs to graduating high school seniors to give them a taste of college life while also learning.
  • Visit the school. If you know a few schools you are particularly interested in, find out when they are having a special weekend for potential students – this will show your interest in the school and it will help you see whether it might really be a good fit for you.

This ABC News video explains how college admission standards are changing to emphasize community service.

Any of these things may help boost your college application. Keep in mind, however, that different schools have different priorities. Liberal arts schools, for example, want their students to be well-rounded so you’ll want to have a variety of interests on display in your application. For more selective schools, academics play a major role. If you’re planning to attend community college, don’t assume that the admissions requirements will be laxer – they may be different, but you’re still expected to show good grades, community involvement, and leadership potential. No matter where you choose to go to college, you should be working on your application throughout high school to ensure that you are well-rounded and ready to take the next step after graduation.

Going to college is a big step – it doesn’t matter whether it’s a community college or a traditional university. Because this step will have a significant impact on your future, you need to take the time to make sure that the school you choose is the best possible fit. Not only do you want to make sure that the school is a good fit for you, but the admissions team wants to know that you are a good fit for the school. So, take what you’ve learned here and use the tips to bulk up your application so you have the best chance of finding the school that will be a perfect fit.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @communitycollegereview

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