For Students and Parents


Whether you’re new to the world of college admissions or looking to build on a strong foundation of knowledge, you are in the right place. Just as incoming freshmen attend orientation on their first day of college, we want to help you to better understand the journey to college, and let you know about our free online college admissions tools and affordable expert services. More than anything, we want you to relax and gain confidence about this process.

Key College Admissions Principles

1. Keep An Open Mind 

So much stress comes from the feeling that there are a small number of schools that are worth going to and that not getting into one of them will be a disaster. Starting with the U.S. News & World Report rankings – or similar competitive lists – is not the right way to begin. There are great colleges all over America and the best ones for a student, in terms of “good fit“, may not feature prominently in the rankings. With this in mind, we have a regular feature on our blog called “The 2968 Series” where we write about great schools that you may not know much, if anything, about.

In addition to reading our blog, you should register for our free online tools, including the College List Builder – learn more about it here.  Using our site, you can slowly refine your list into a mix of safety, target and reach schools that will help you optimize your chances of attending your perfect, good-fit college.

2. Personalize Your Journey

At Admitster, we are big believers in personalization. After you register, you will be able to use our Prediction and “What If?” tools to show you what your chances of admission are at individual colleges, as well as how to alter those chances. Your journey to college will be different than that of family and friends who have traveled the road before you and will also differ from the experiences of your fellow classmates who are also in the midst of their college applications. For instance, perhaps you have friends who are taking test prep classes. You, however, don’t need to because you’ve already received a high enough standardized test score to gain admission to the schools that you hope to attend. Perhaps your focus should be more on improving your GPA, boosting your leadership experience, or volunteering in your community. Every student should have a different strategy for admission to their top-choice schools and, using our free online tools, you can determine the strategy that’s best for you!

3. College Admissions Are A Game, Learn How To Play

Colleges don’t use a standard set of admissions rules. Each has its own preferences, expectations, and institutional goals that result in different admissions priorities as they work to build a well-rounded incoming freshmen class. These circumstances often change over time. The system is not entirely rational, or entirely fair, or based entirely on merit. There will always be an element of unpredictability in the college admissions process!

College admissions is more like a game than a standardized test. You need to learn how to play that game and play it well. We will help you to learn more about how it works, some good college admissions strategies, and how you can come up with a personalized admissions plan.

4. Optimize, Don’t Maximize

One of the biggest drivers of cost and stress along the journey to college is that people do too much of everything, not being sure what will pay off the most: more course work, more sports, more tutoring, more coaching, more standardized test prep, more of everything is undertaken. We know that much of that time and money is wasted, because not everything is equally important for getting into your top-choice schools. You will be better off optimizing and not maximizing your efforts at gaining admission. Using our tools and other resources, you can learn the right things to do in order to maximize your chances of admission.

5. Know When To Seek Professional Advice

There are times when there are difficult decisions to make. It can be very helpful to stop and talk to an expert about school selection, extracurricular involvement, or how best to prepare for a certain type of school. If you have simple questions, just open the chat bubble on our website and ask us. If you need more help, we offer one-on-one admissions advising and essay review services for all budgets.

6. Look For Value

College is expensive, and it is not a “You get what you pay for” market. There are tremendous schools that provide great outcomes and earning potential that cost a lot less than other schools which may be viewed as being more prestigious. On the same note, many schools advertise a very high tuition, but offer extensive grants and scholarship opportunities, making their actual cost of attendance much lower than you would expect. We cover this topic on our blog (see, for instance, here), and are also working on changes to our College List Builder tool to help people judge the value of attending individual colleges. Stay tuned!

Bringing It All Together

Students and parents spend so much time and money on the journey to college, and can become very stressed during the process. However, you can reduce your stress and feel good about your college trek if you understand that this is a game that you can learn to play well. Winning the game isn’t necessarily going to the same schools everyone else wants to attend. Winning isn’t taking the same exact approach to your application as everyone else. Winning is getting into a school that you know is right for you, and will be valuable for your future.

At Admitster, we will continue to add products and services that help you to own your journey to college. We update our site constantly. Follow us on Twitter and keep reading The Edge – our respected college admissions blog. Register to access our free tools. Check out our admissions advising and essay review services. Ask us questions whenever you want. We are here to help.