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In 2008, I got rejected from my top-choice school, Stanford.
Here's why I'm telling you all of this: Now that you know my story, let's start with the positives: how to avoid getting rejected from college in the first place. At the time I thought I'd done fairly well on the test, but I didn't realize that pretty good isn't usually good enough for top schools like Stanford.
If this doesn't work out for you, no worries—I'll also give you advice on what to do if you about what I did wrong in my application. I didn't have a "spike" that made me stand apart from other applicants; instead, I naively believed in the misconception that well rounded was what all top schools wanted the most. These days, you'd need to score around 1460 (or in the top 3%) just to meet the average at Stanford!
I remember bursting into tears as soon as I finished reading it and then running to my parents for comfort. And I had a blast: I joined a couple of clubs, wrote for the school newspaper, worked on campus, made good friends, and had an overall fun and eclectic experience I'd never trade for Sometimes, though, I think back to that initial college rejection and wonder: how did I manage to get through such a difficult, stressful time in my life?
So many questions ran through my head: how come they didn't like me? And how can I use what I know now to help other students in the same position I was once in?
This means that you could get mostly As and a couple of Bs in challenging AP courses and have a higher chance of getting accepted over someone who got all As but took only easy classes.
This is because colleges like to see that you're continuously challenging yourself.
If you have a spike as well as high test scores, a high GPA, etc., you'll have a much better chance of being a top-choice candidate for your school.
All of this also means that you should avoid aiming for a well-rounded application.
Your chance of getting a college rejection letter will be less likely if your top-choice school is ranked lower and has a higher admission rate.
For the Ivy League and other highly competitive schools, you'll definitely need to stand out from other applicants.