September 29, 2023

Top four tips on how to succeed on college applications

Applying to colleges requires careful consideration and planning
Learn the most effective methods for smoothly and efficiently completing the college admissions process

As any future-focused high school student and their parents know, the modern-day college admissions process has become more competitive than ever and requires careful planning to cinch admittance to a top-choice university. 

In fact, the Common Application has seen a steady incline in applications over the past few years with a 7.5% increase in applications from the year prior. [1] In tandem with the uptick in applications, admission rates have been on a downward trend, especially at historically selective colleges. Harvard’s Class of 2027, for example, was met with a 2.57% regular decision admission rate, while the Class of 2024 had a 3.21% regular decision admission rate. [2]

Amid staunch competition, it’s valuable to gather all the information you can on best practices for ensuring successful admittance to the college and universities of your child’s choice. Continue reading to explore our top tips on how to succeed on college applications.

#1: Commit to the personal statement

Encourage your child to spend time crafting a compelling personal statement. Brainstorm with them on ways to highlight their unique experiences, niche interests, and value they can add to the prospective college community.

Every high-performing student applying to a top college these days has maintained strong academics, stayed involved in extracurricular activities, and submitted stellar SAT and ACT scores. The factors that can really set your child apart from the crowd are their unique strengths and abilities, which are best showcased as a part of their personal statement. 

#2: Be thoughtful about letters of recommendation

When it comes to a strong, personalized letter of recommendation, help your child consider the teachers, coaches, and administrators that truly know them best. Mentors that have seen them grow throughout their high school career and are invested in their future will write the best letter of recommendation for your child. 

Hearing from a third-party about who your child is and why they would fit into a prospective university’s community can be an extremely valuable part of their application. 

#3: Take the time to go on campus visits

Whenever possible, it can be exceedingly valuable to take your child on a campus visit of the colleges they’re interested in.

There’s a lot of information that can be found online from student video testimonials and virtual tours to personal conversations with admissions officers and a content-rich website, but visiting a college campus in-person can offer a whole new perspective to your child. They may find that a college they weren’t too interested in online becomes one of their top choices after an in-person tour, or vice versa.

Consider using fall and spring breaks to plan college tour road trips where you can visit a few different colleges in one trip, whether it’s a formal tour or a visit to the campus grounds. 

#4: Stay organized and offer help

Your child will apply to multiple colleges throughout the application cycle, so creating a system to keep track of deadlines, requirements, and submission due dates is vital for success.

If your child is not a natural-born organizer, set aside some time to help them construct an organization system to most effectively support them in this college application journey.

It’s important that you offer help to your child in any way you can throughout the application process since it can be inherently stressful. However, it’s also valuable to foster independence throughout the process and respect their choices, even if they may be different from what you imagined for them.

In conclusion
Remember that the college application process is just one step in a lifelong journey of learning and personal growth. It's essential to focus on finding the right fit for your child's academic and personal development rather than getting fixated on the prestige of a particular institution.

Our college planning support

As one of the Best College Prep Private High Schools in the Orlando and Orange County areas per Niche rankings, Windermere Preparatory School is committed to supporting each of our high school students through the selection, application, and admission process of their top-choice universities as a part of our four-year college counseling model. 

Through the dedicated efforts of our college counseling team, Windermere Prep seniors have a 100% college acceptance rate each year, and successfully yield an annual average of over 700 acceptances to nearly 200 colleges and universities. 

Now accepting applications!
Begin your admissions journey by inquiring today.



1: Common App | Deadline update: first-year application trends through January 1
2: Top Tier Admissions | Harvard University: Acceptance Rates & Statistics