By Patrick Alix, April 14, 2012

It’s halfway through April already and it would seem that most of the younger my friends made have either graduated from high school or are incoming seniors (our educational system isn’t K+12 by the way). So I’m here to offer some tips for those incoming seniors on how to get into a good college/university. It’s not 100% foolproof, so don’t count on it entirely.

Do believe me when I say “I know what I’m talking about” though, because I took the Ateneo College Entrance Test (ACET) thrice and the De La Salle University College Entrance Test (DLSUCET) twice. I have more than enough knowledge to know what to avoid than those who’ve passed the tests on their first try.

Apply to a review centre this summer. Reviewing this summer will help you understand the lessons you’re gonna get when you enter senior year. Look for a review centre that’s hires excellent teachers. I would recommend AHEAD Tutorial and Review because they are just the best at what they do. They know how to teach kids in a fun environment and still keep it academic. For those living near the Katipunan area, you’re in luck because their main office is situated there. It’s in the building with Yellow Cab in it.

I cannot stress this enough. You must take studying seriously. Giving your studies your 100% is not enough. You must push yourself over the limit. Well, probably not so much that you might be admitted in a hospital. More like coffee+Red Bull=study-over-sleep-kind-of-thing. But don’t do that two weeks before the test.

Focus on your forte. Don’t try to push yourself to be perfect in all disciplines, it will just distract you from your strength, but don’t get low grades at subjects you’re bad at either. I was good at everything except the Math, Physics and Chemistry (DLSUCET has some Chemistry). I focused on widening my vocabulary, skimming and scanning and grammar for the language proficiency portion. For the math part, Algebra plays a huge role in the test. There would probably be only 5 questions about Trigonometry and barely about Calculus. There are some Statistics and Accounting, but don’t take my word for it, just ask AHEAD.

Participate and get really good grades in your senior year. Your elders have probably said that junior year was the hardest in high school. It isn’t. Don’t listen to them, they’re just trying to make you comfortable. Students with high grades will always be put at the top of the list, no matter what family background they are in. Senior year is the hardest year, not just academically but socially. Colleges/universities will be looking at your participation at various clubs or organisations. “Rank positions don’t matter for college application. What matters is that you are in a club or org.” That is totally untrue. Being in a club or organisation is not enough, you need to have a position. Being in the Student Government or anything to its equivalent is a huge bonus.

Join competitions. It’s important to know that although winning is great and it will impress the college/university admissions, letting them see that you have the confidence and skills to compete will make them consider your application. They only have seconds to look at your application. Turn it into minutes with a longer list with competitions in it. However, join competitions you are confident enough to join only.

You must find a way to participate in your community or for a community. Doing volunteer work is a huge plus, even if it is something simple. If you can organise an event that helps the community, that my friend is good enough to put in a resumé–a resumé for professional work. Speaking of which, summer jobs or part-time jobs are a real bonus. Showing that you are eager to plunge into the working environment will definitely grab their attention.

Go to events that are held publicly by the college/university you are trying to get into. This lets them know that you are really interested to the point that you would actually attend something. Picking what you attend is also important. Going to a campus fair really doesn’t scream “I’m interested in learning at your institution.” Pick conferences, lectures, debates or anything that could be comparable to those mentioned. This also shows that you know what’s going on in their institution even if you’re still in high school.

Be kind and impress your teachers and guidance councillors. These people are the ones who will fill out your recommendation letters, and getting some really good words from them is extremely important. Pick faculties that you’re really close with. Guidance councillors are a huge plus. Try to talk to them and seek advice. Make them remember who you are as much as possible.

Pass your application form early. It’s not much but it certainly does let them know that you put important things into priority. Pick a date that’s not too early because there might be some events that you might want to attend or there might be positions in your school that you might want to apply for.

I can’t believe I’m saying this. Being part of any varsity sports team is a great advantage. Colleges/universities are looking for students who can carry the college’s/university’s name in competitions. Rank in the team certainly does matter. However, there are only a few people who get recruited in varsity teams. So that means that you are already the cream of the crop in your high school.

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