When it comes to applying for a college or university, it may have you think: what can you do to get yourself admitted at a higher chance? A great way to do this is by conducting research. According to PowerUp: “Conducting research is an inquiry-based process that involves identifying a question, gathering information, analyzing and evaluating evidence, drawing conclusions, and sharing the knowledge gained. The ability to conduct research is a critical skill students need to be college and career ready.” While it’s known as a skill that college students need, it can also be a great skill that a high school student such as you can have. 

But conducting research doesn’t just need to be for your subjects: It can also be a way for you to learn more about the institute you’re planning to apply for while learning the ins and outs. From the environment to the courses to the inner thing, doing research will help you enhance your admissions because it'll save you a lot of time, and it'll enhance your chances of being accepted. 

But then, where you do start? If you’re a bit stumped on how to go about it, don’t worry; we’ve got a guide for you down below. Read on and see what you can do to conduct research and enhance your admissions. 

  1. Identify your factors

When it comes to researching the colleges you'll be applying for, it pays to start from within. You can't just go to a college and go unprepared: You need to understand what you want from experience. If you need somewhere to start, here's what PrepScholar has for you:

Personal Factors when conducting research for college
  1. List down the colleges you plan to apply for

When you're starting with researching, it's a good idea to list down the colleges you plan to apply for because you'll be able to prioritize them based on several factors such as the ones listed from the infographic along with your goals. You can then gather papers for the colleges you've listed down and start collecting the data you'll be doing during your research. For example, if you prefer being near your living area, you can check for colleges that are nearby. From there, you can list down the colleges you feel are great for you. But if you’re out for an adventure and would like to see the world beyond your area, you can check for any states that appeal to you and then you can start listing down colleges that look great for you. Another factor to remember is your course. For example, if the course you plan to take is liberal arts, you list down colleges that offer that kind of course or colleges that are liberal arts all-throughout. 

  1. Be familiar with the essential admission requirements along with any unique additions

When you’ve listed down what you need, you’re now ready to go for it and get familiar with the admission requirements. Every college has the essentials, but they may have unique additions. For example, one college might ask for a midyear transcript while another will ask for a high school transcript with letters of recommendation. By knowing what the unique additions are, it'll help you be prepared more and more. 

  1. Learn more about the department that holds the course you’re picking

As you’re slowly picking the colleges, it pays to know the department that holds you’re picking. It’s because many colleges have several departments that will have additional requirements on top of the essential requirements, so knowing what a department needs from you will boost your chances of being admitted. 

It will especially help you when you're planning to go for an art course because some colleges let you have the option of sending something that tests your skills such as a painting. Another good example would be a college might offer the optional requirement of letting you make a video profile so that you can show them what your application is all about.

  1. Understand the way a college reviews the applications and take advantage of it

Another thing to note when researching about a college is understanding the way their admissions team does the review. While a majority of colleges does the holistic review (where the scores aren't the only factors that will determine your chance of being admitted), some still do the old-school way of reviewing. If you're curious about how different they can be, you can check more about the different types from IvyWise here.

When you’ve understood how a review is done by the college you’ve selected, you can take advantage of it by giving your application a boost. For example, if the admissions team from one college does the holistic review, you can start adding extracurricular activities that will give them the idea you’ve got quite the accomplishment. You can then add experiences that will delight them, such as a part-time job, internship, and summer classes.

  1. Know your chances of admission 

While you will have a list of the requirements you need, you’ll also need to know the chances of admission. In the old days, everyone would know about the admission rates from the college itself. Nowadays, you can practically Google about the rates and see the trend that’s gone in the past several years and see what is projected in the next few years. You can even check websites like TopTier Admissions and have an idea of the rates between different colleges. 

Once you have an idea of the admission rate, you can see how high your chance is. So if the admission rate of one college is lower than the other, you might go for the ones with the higher rate. But then what if the college you want so much has a single-digit rate? It's good to know the rate so you can raise your chances when you can. It can also tell you just how selective a college can be as well as the quality of education it offers to prospective students. 

  1. Check if the college is currently accepting SAT and ACT results

Typically, giving the results for the SAT and ACT is a mandatory requirement for all admissions in colleges. But these days, many colleges are changing the status and making it optional. Why? It’s because of the pandemic that’s going on worldwide. It’s even had UCLA make it optional and will decide on another test that will replace the SAT and ACT result requirements in Fall 2025. 

So why find out if the college you want to apply for is currently accepting SAT and ACT results? It's because it'll give you time to collect the other mandatory requirements. You can still do the SAT and ACTs even if the results you want to submit are optional, but if you're not in the mood to go for the tests, you can go for it and be more focused on the other requirements with a more robust focus. 

  1. Have a tour of the campus online and offline

Another great way of researching the college you're perfect for is taking a tour. Most colleges these days offer tours both online and offline. If you're the type who wants to see the place before you even land there, the online tour will work right for you. You can even see photos and videos of the campus itself made by the college itself. But if you want to feel and see the sights and sounds with your senses, the offline tour is the one to go for. Some colleges will be happy to assist you and help you out with schedules. An example of this is UCLA which has a page about the tours they offer here. For a more significant experience, you can do both tours so that when you're done with the online tour, you can see just how real it can be with the offline tour. 

By taking a tour with the colleges you’ve listed down earlier, it’ll give you a good idea of how they all are. It’ll let you see what the upsides and downsides are. When you’ve collected all the data you need, you can compare and contrast which college is the right one for you. You can even go for it and chat with the faculty members and students at the college. It’ll be a great way to take notes and see how they view the campus they’re working and studying in. 

  1. Do a research study

While you're researching for the college you're aiming for, why not do an actual research study and show the admissions team what you're capable of? It'll not only boost your application nicely, but it'll also help you understand more about your capabilities. It can even help you be noticed by the admissions team of the med school. Need some tips? Here’s how to get started

How to do Research Study
  1. See if the colleges take advantage of a state’s laws

For this one, it’s a matter of whether or not you’re a resident of the state. A great example of this is Texas. In Texas, it’s stated by law that Texan applicants can be eligible for an automatic admission which means that when they meet the requirements, they’re automatically admitted without having to go through the usual phase. It’s another way of saying they get a shortcut. It might not be much for you, but if you happen to be a Texan, you can be sure to take advantage of this. 

So when looking for a college, take note of the state you're in and see what the laws are helpful for applicants like you. But if you're not in the mood to take advantage of if you're happy to go through the usual way, you can skip this step if you like. 

  1. Be familiar with alternative options in case you’re not accepted

At some point, you might wonder: What if the college you want to apply for isn't going to accept you? What if the admission rate is too low for you? You can try checking the alternative options of the colleges in case you're not accepted. You can check if they accept transfer applicants so that you can go to a different college and come back later. You can also check if they accept admissions appeal. You can also take note of other colleges that are cool with you and have higher admission rates so that you can stick with them instead. Heck, you may even be able to apply after taking a gap year. What matters here is by knowing the alternative options, you already have a path toward your college journey.

  1. Collect all the data you’ve gathered and start arranging them nicely

Are you done with the research? Good! Now you can start collecting all the data you've gathered and arrange them nicely. Whether digital or print, you'll be able to start comparing which of the colleges are best for you. You can start taking notes on which of the colleges are similar, see the ones that have the course you like, and other things. Once you’ve got everything organized, you can start prioritizing which college is the right one for you. Then, you can boost your application with the research you’ve done and work your way to victory.

Conclusion

When it comes to applying for college, it can be daunting. There are so many of them that you can't begin to comprehend which one is the right one for you. But by conducting research and making a comparison between the ones you're interested in, you'll be able to learn more about the colleges and see what lies underneath. It'll also help you enhance your admission because once you've already picked the colleges that you feel right for you and noted the idea of the admission rate along with the ins and outs, the upsides and downsides and other things that most applicants wouldn't even bother to know about, you'll have quite the chance. So don't be afraid to conduct research. In time, you'll be able to enhance your admission and be part of the college you've been dreaming of! 

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