College Admissions Strategies

The insider secrets to getting into the college of your choice

Soliciting bribes. Faking your race. Blatantly stalking admissions officers.

I’ve pretty much seen & heard  it all. College admissions are a competitive game. And like any competition, it can bring out the best and the worst in people. Being in the field of college planning for  quite a long time,  my team and I have figured out what works and what doesn’t.

Trust me when I say; “lying, cheating, and bribing your way into a college doesn’t work.” In fact, theses kind of dishonest tactics will do more to damage your chances of acceptance more than anything.

So how can you get an edge over the next applicant without resorting to morally irresponsible behavior?

That’s the goal of this report. It’s a collection of the “5 Best Little-known College Admissions Strategies.”

But before that, I need to dispel a few myths.

Myths that hold a lot of kids back from getting accepted at their dream college.

Myth #1: Your family name guarantees you acceptance. In fact, at the so called
“in-state elites:” UCLA, University of Michigan, University of Virginia, UCLA, Cal Berkley, and UNC Chapel Hill – being a legacy is of almost zero help. Schools of this size are simply too big to make legacy a factor.

However at some of the smaller elite private colleges, legacy is an admitted factor. But the percentage is very small. It can range anywhere from 5% and 30% of the freshman class. That still leaves the large majority of open spots to non-legacy kids.

At Yale (according to their alumni magazine), only 30 percent of legacy apps are accepted.

Keep in mind, there are always exceptions. In fact, if your family has been donating large sums of money (tens of thousands) on an annual basis because you’re an alumni, then chances are your child is going to get accepted to that college. Assuming your child has the minimum standard GPA and test scores.

Do you have a building named after you on a college campus? If so, you can stop reading this report now. Your child is getting into that school.

Otherwise, don’t rely on your good family name to get your kid in.

Myth #2: High GPA and High ACT/SAT scores are all that’s needed to get accepted.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

At elite colleges, high GPA’s and test scores are the absolute bare minimum for applicants. This could be the biggest mistake kids make. They focus too much attention on these factors.

Don’t get me wrong. They’re still important. But there has to be more.

Put yourself in an admissions counselor’s shoes for a second.

You’ve put in a full eight-hour day at the office already and you still have a stack of applications to go through at home. All the applicants have high-test scores and grades. What part of your child’s application is going to set themselves apart?

The answer to that question is really what the rest of this report is about.

Without further ado, here are 5 Secret College Admission Strategies (ones they really don’t want you to know!)

Insider Secret #1: How To Create An Essay To Impress

Plain and simple, you want your essay to stand out from the crowd. You want the admission officer who reads it to proclaim “WOW!” and then proceed to pass it on to their co-workers and further add – “This is an interesting student. Let’s take a closer look at what they have done.”

Your essay is not about bragging. It’s not about re-listing all the different activities you’ve done. (There are other parts of your application for that.)

So what makes a great college application essay?

The best ones tell a story. As humans, we have been conditioned since birth to learn and communicate through stories. As we get older, the importance of stories doesn’t change. In fact, the power of stories continues to grow.

Let me give you an example of a standout essay. (Perhaps the best our office has ever come across.)

The essay used the classic underdog storyline. The student shared how she was painfully shy as a young girl. Until one day she discovered the classic book “How To Win Friends And Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie. She shared her favorite lessons from the book and how they helped her to cope with her natural shyness. Even going as far as to share how painful it was as a freshmen entering a new school where she didn’t know anybody. But slowly but surely, the lessons she learned in Mr. Carnegie’s book helped her to grow as a person. Culminating in her Senior Year where she finished a close 2nd in balloting for Homecoming Queen.

After you reading this essay you couldn’t help but root for this girl. And it paid off big time. She was accepted at Notre Dame, one of the toughest colleges in the country to get into.

It was absolutely unique. After reading it, you felt like you knew her. And she came across as very likeable. Likeable in that you knew she wasn’t perfect. In fact the story shared some of her flaws (as well as some interesting quirks about her family.)
Colleges like to see themselves as one big extended family. And this essay made it clear that family was important to her.

Colleges aren’t looking to fill all their slots with brainiacs. They want creative types, leaders, and athletes. Colleges want a mix of everything.

Colleges don’t want you to be predictable. They want you to stand out.

And standout essays frequently are about specific events that show how you think and deal with situations told in story form.

In Part 2 of this report, I’ll cover four more College Admissions Strategies, including:

To your college success,

Scott Weingold

Related Articles:

College Admissions Strategies Report , Part 2

College Admissions Essay Help

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1 Comment

Ron KelchDecember 24th, 2010 at 10:33 pm

I am a grandfather of a young Jr. High School Student, trying to gather as much information as I can to help his Mother follow the correct path’s, in the right order, to help him get accepted in a few Schools of his choice. The information that I am receiving from your organization has been a great help. Thank you so much.

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News,, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.