How to Get Into College 101

Tips from Top College Students


Photo by Crystal Choi

Stanford University

Getting into college is intimidating, so here is a rundown of what five college admits (four of which are from Rogers!) [University of Washington, Pacific Lutheran University, Stanford University, Central Washington University, Chaminade University] said of how to get in, in terms of:

  • High School GPA
  • Standardized testing
  • Extracurriculars
  • Application essays
  • General Tips


Alwin Sacro, University of Washington (Seattle) Junior

Photo by Alwin Sacro
University of Washington junior Alwin Sacro

GPA: 4.0

SAT Score: 1780 (1270 on the new SAT)

Extracurriculars: Varsity Tennis, Varsity Track, Basketball, Key Club, Breakfast Club (on-campus Bible Study) Officer, Church Event Helper (VBS, Youth Camp, Worship Night, Bible Study)

Application Essay Tips: “I think being authentic and transparent when it comes to writing essays is really important. Since you can’t really put a face to your name via interviews, the essay is pretty much the only opportunity for schools to get a grasp of who you are as a person. At the same time, sticking to the prompt is just as important. Answer what they are asking not what you want them to be asking.”

General Tips: “I think the biggest tips I can give to get into college is to define your goals, persevere, and do something. Things aren’t always going to go your way and your schedule may get jam packed, but remembering why you want to go to college is a strong enough impetus to motivate you to do the work, get involved, and make the right decisions. Not doing anything and sliding through your week is a surefire way to easily stray off your course of getting into school.”


Ashley Searles, Pacific Lutheran University Junior

Photo by Ashley Searles
PLU student Ashley Searles

GPA (at Pierce): 2.83

Extracurriculars: None

Application Experience: “My essay to Pacific Lutheran University mostly discusses why I wanted to be able to do with the voice I would have as a teacher. Show that you really want to make a difference and are passionate about what you’re writing and that you actually believe it. Everyone makes applying to college seem like this scary crazy task but I didn’t have a perfect GPA and my essay was short and to the point.”

General Tips: “I 100% support doing Running Start and being transfer student definitely increased my chances of being accepted.”


Madi Brunette, Stanford University Freshman

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Madi Brunette, Stanford freshman

GPA: 4.0

SAT Score: 1570

ACT Score: 35

Extracurriculars: Gymnastics, Swimming, Community Service, Soup Kitchen Worker, Women’s Shelter Worker

Application Essay Tips: “Be yourself… try to have your application reflect you… don’t write about the same things over and over or try to say what you think they want to hear.”

General Tips: “remember to be open because you never know what school might surprise you and end up being a perfect fit. And take lots of visits!”


Grace McKay, Central Washington University Freshman

Photo by Grace McKay
Central Washington University freshman Grace McKay

GPA: 3.902

SAT Score: 1290

Extracurriculars: Leadership Club, Cross Country, Track and Field, Orchestra, Choir, Tacoma Youth Symphony, Teaching Violin Lessons

Application Essay Tips: “I tried my hardest and had lots of people read and revise it. This included my family and my English teacher.”

General Tips: “I would say: relax. Everyone freaks out so much about getting into college and worry more about where they’re going to be accepted rather than being excited about the next chapter of their life. It’s definitely important to keep your grades up, especially as Senioritis hits; you have to finish the year strong and work hard. Don’t stress about stuff that hasn’t happened yet and enjoy the moment before it’s over.”


Staff Special: Jasmine Teofilo, Chaminade University Admit

Photo by Jasmine Teofilo
Jasmine Teofilo, Chaminade University admit

GPA: 3.2

SAT Score: 1200

Extracurriculars: FCCLA President and State Officer, Journalism Ad Coordinator and Staff Writer, Key Club District Convention Chair and Lead Team Member, National Junior Honor Society Secretary, Multiple Plays

Application Essay Tips: “Talk about a powerful moment in your life; colleges want to know about you and about events that have shaped you in your life.”

General Tips: “Apply!”