The college application is a stress-filled test of high school students’ writing and communication skills. There is no magic formula to the process, but there are a few things that all colleges look for from their applicants. Continue reading for what colleges really want and how you can get into the school of your choice.

Prepare Yourself

Finding the right school for you is no easy matter. Competition for incoming freshmen has never been tougher and there are a multitude of choices that can easily overwhelm prospective students. Thankfully, with all of these choices comes a wealth of data and information that you can use to your advantage.

There are websites such as CollegeData that help you compare schools in terms of tuition costs, applicant acceptance rate, average grade and test scores for incoming freshman, and more.

Find The Schools That Want You

While having high grades will help you gain admission to college, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll get in. Stanford, for example, only accepts five percent of the students who apply there. However, you’ll still want your grades as high as possible, since it’ll help you get financial aid.

Likewise, the top schools can’t select all of the worthy candidates that apply. Consider applying to smaller, lesser known schools who will bend over backward for you, offering scholarships, financial aid, and other resources to its highly recruited students.

Don’t Become Crippled With Debt

No matter what school you choose, make sure it’s able to help you pay for your education. Whether through full or partial scholarships, work-study programs, or financial aid, your college should not saddle you with monumental debt.

A college education is important, but not so important that you go into years of decades of debt. Find a school that offers plenty of options to offset your yearly costs.