TIPS for high school students thinking about college:
1) Challenge yourself in school. Take the most demanding curriculum you are capable of handling, including Advanced Placement and honors courses if they are offered.
2) Take a math and science class during 12th grade even if they are not required. Stick with a foreign language, too.
3) Try different extracurricular activities early in high school, then make a commitment to a couple of them in 11th and 12th grade. Show that you have perseverance.
4) Get to know your teachers. You'll learn more and you'll have the added benefit of mentors when it's time to ask for recommendations.
5) Embrace your uniqueness and communicate that to the college admissions office through your essays and interview. This is not the time to blend or be a wallflower.
6) If an application states that an essay or something else is optional, do it anyway. Don't settle for the minimum.
7) If you are very interested in a particular college, make the admissions office aware. Many colleges track a student's "demonstrated interest," such as campus visits, e-mails and participation in online chats.
SOURCE: ROBERT PERTUSATI, ASSOCIATE DEAN OF UNDERGRADUATE ADMISSIONS, STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY