You will have to give the admissions office a reason to want you in their college. Emphasize your work and/or volunteer experience, your sports and/or hobbies. If you have unusual interest you should acknowledge that too. Anything that will make you look good should be used.
Do not feel that you need to be involved in everything. Most people cannot and do not have the time. It’s much better for the admissions office to see that you can excel at one thing than to be just average in a multitude of areas. Most good colleges seek this out.
Make sure you are prepared for the interview. Dress nicely, smile and make eye contact. Speak clearly and professionally.
When preparing your essay for the college, make sure that the paper is not dull. You should check for misspellings and grammatical errors. If your essay isn’t in top-form the admissions office will not accept you.
Ask only teachers and employers for recommendations. Positive comments from anyone else will be overlooked. Colleges want to know what other teachers, who have taught you, think. Also, employers have supervised you and will not pad the information in most cases.
Make sure you take the right courses in high school. Grades are more important than board scores, but the quality and level of courses count more than grades. It’s better to get a B in an advanced placement or honors course than an A in a basic course.
Don’t take the college boards more than twice. If you do it shows that you are being pushy. Read the review books and take the course. If you show improvement on your second score that will help your chances.
Take advantage of colleges’ desire for diversity. A good student from a small Midwestern town has a better chance of getting into Harvard than one from a big city. All schools look for a geographic diversity.
Apply to some unlikely schools. Don’t be shy to apply to a Catholic school if you are not Catholic.
Also, don’t dismiss a school just because your parents went there. Yes, this does happen. But, having alumnus parents will increase your chances of getting in.
Keep focus on school and your choice of a top-notch college will be in your future.