A surge in college enrollment has made admissions more competitive than ever
In years past, students resorted to wacky stunts like delivering their application by singing telegram, but these days, the way to stand out from the crowd is through scholastic achievement. • Virginia Commonwealth University: Sybil Halloran, VCU director of undergraduate admissions, advises students to "focus on their academic progress, make sure they are taking challenging courses, college-prep courses, and make sure they're doing as well as possible in those courses." • Virginia Tech: Three primary qualities count: taking challenging (often college-level or college-prep) courses; performance in those courses; and standardized test scores, says Amy Widner, public-relations coordinator for undergraduate admissions at Tech. Grades aren't as crucial if a student is enrolled in rigorous courses. • University of Virginia: Admissions officers look at "the student's curriculum, their class ranking, their test scores, do they demonstrate a love of learning, have they demonstrated academic improvement, academic industry," U.Va. spokesperson Marian Anderfuren says. Essays are not emphasized as much as in past years. • Community colleges: Bypass the freshman-year admissions battle altogether, says Jeffrey J. Kraus, assistant vice chancellor of public relations for Virginia's community colleges. "If they absolutely have their heart set on U.Va. and no other college will do, they should start their college career at a community college, and when they finish their associate's degree with the specified GPA, U.Va. will accept them with open arms."