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Beyond the SAT: resources for college

A guide to the SAT's role in the college admissions process
The college search and application process can feel overwhelming, but don’t worry—there are plenty of resources available to help you navigate it.

Researching and applying to schools

There are thousands of colleges and universities out there, so it can be helpful to start by narrowing down your options based on factors like location, size, and majors offered.
Check out BigFuture on College Board for more information and resources about searching, applying, and paying for college, and staying organized throughout the process. There, you can research and build a list of colleges to apply to, find scholarships and complete the FAFSA, and explore career options and how they relate to different college majors.
Once you’ve identified some schools you’re interested in, it’s time to start working on your applications. Many schools use the Common Application, which allows you to apply to multiple schools using one application. You’ll need to write essays, request transcripts and letters of recommendation, and fill out financial aid forms. Which brings us to…

The elements of your application

While the SAT is an important part of the college application process for many schools, it’s not the only thing that colleges consider when they’re reviewing your application. In fact, many colleges have moved away from requiring standardized test scores altogether. If you’re not feeling confident about your SAT scores, don’t worry—you still have plenty of options.
Here are some other key elements of your application:
  • Your academic record: Colleges will be looking at your high school transcript to see how you’ve performed academically. Make sure you’re taking challenging courses and doing your best to maintain good grades.
  • Extracurricular activities: Colleges want to see that you’re involved in activities outside of the classroom. This could include sports, clubs, volunteering, or part-time jobs. But, don’t just join a bunch of activities to round out your college application! In general, admissions officers are looking for depth, rather than breadth, of activities—find what you are passionate about and pursue it.
  • Essays and personal statements: These are your chances to showcase your personality and explain why you’d be a good fit for the school you’re applying to.
  • Letters of recommendation: These are letters from teachers or other adults who know you well and can speak to your strengths and character.

Other resources

Make sure to check in with your high school guidance counselor throughout the search and application process. They can be a great source of information and support!
In addition to College Board’s BigFuture, there are plenty of online resources to help you. Khan Academy offers a College Admissions course with articles, videos, and resources to help you navigate the process—including how to find and compare different schools, how to approach the different elements of your application, how to pay for college, and much more. There are also other websites and services that can provide additional information, guidance, and support.
The college search and application process can be stressful, but remember that it’s also an exciting time in your life. Congratulations on getting started—you’ve got this!

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