Everything you need to know to get into a top US University

This article will list out the different aspects of your application that will secure you a seat in a top US university.

Standardized Tests

Colleges need to determine if you are a good fit to the environment that you will be in if you attend that particular college. They do this by evaluating your scores on the standardized test(s); that is, the SAT or ACT (or both). These are tests that determine your intellect relative to the rest of the world. The SAT has a maximum score of 1600, while the ACT is out of 36. However, they are both valued similarly by admissions officers. So, it does not matter if you get 36 on the ACT vs 1600 on the SAT. The higher your score on standardized tests, the greater your chance of acceptance into a top university. For more information on the SAT and ACT and their key differences, click here.

Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular Activities (ECAs) are an integral part of your college application. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Clubs (Debate, Sports, etc.)
  • Community Service (volunteering in your local hospital, helping senior citizens, etc.)
  • Internships
  • Being skilled in playing various instruments
  • Sports teams

It is important to be involved in Extracurricular activities because they portray leadership skills, initiative and the ability to cooperate and work with others among many other skills.


Your accomplishments include:

  • Awards you have won for any particular skill set
  • Competitions that you have won
  • Merit Scholarships that you have earned
  • Anything you have done that you are proud of

Again, like ECAs, your accomplishments tell admissions officers that you have many skills and are unique.


In your college application, you will have to write several essays. The college essay is your opportunity to show admissions officers who you are apart from your grades and test scores. Some examples of essay prompts in the college application include:

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failureHow did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma—anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

(Common Application, 2017)


Last but not the least, your grades in high school are a crucial factor in your college application. If you do well in school, it is a sign that you will also do well in college. Your grades are an indicator of your academic success in school. Take care to maintain a good overall grade.

These are the factors that determine whether you will get into a top university or not. You must keep in mind that the acceptance rate in most top universities in the US is low, so you must show admissions officers how you are different and unique. Thousands of applications are received by universities like Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Yale, Columbia, etc. It is just a matter of narrowing it down to the best applicants.


Sachin is a student of Class 10 in Bangalore, India. He spends a lot of time researching college options and loves to share it with his peers.

One thought on “Everything you need to know to get into a top US University

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: