For the graduating class of 2018, college is a hot topic in the month of October. Everyone worries about applications and how to get into the school of their dreams. Don’t worry—it may seem daunting but conquering a college application is actually pretty easy. Here are the tips you need to impress your admissions deans!

1. Know your application.

It's important to know what will be expected you before D-day so you can adequately prepare. Its best if you can start this process during your freshman or sophomore year. Plan out your schedule, it's important to get a diverse range of classes and extracurricular activities. Colleges want to see that you have been using your time wisely in high school, it's a good indication to how you will spend your time at their university. Planning ahead will make it so you have a good record to show off on an application.

2. Prepare Academically

Extracurricular activities are important and they show admissions officers that you are involved in other things besides school. Academics are easily the most important part of your application though. Don’t worry yourself too much about being in 8 AP classes or having a perfect 4.0, but do your best in school. Putting in a few extra study hours here and there or going to additional review sessions could help you boost your GPA or ACT scores a few points. It may not sound like a big deal, but a few points could distinguish you from another candidate and get that acceptance letter!

3. Get Your Scores in Advance

Colleges judge your academic standing based on GPA and a standardized test score. Depending on which schools you plan on applying to, you may need to take specific tests. Most schools in Utah require an ACT score. Schools outside the state often require the ACT with writing test or the SAT. The school counselors can tell you which test you’ll need to take and help you register for them. If you are stressed about taking the tests, some schools and private companies offer prep courses which will give you an idea of how to study for each test.

4. Letters of recommendation

Most universities require letters of recommendation written by either personal mentors or teachers. Look into what you are required to have before your application opens, and if you need letters of recommendation ask the people you want to write them in advance. This is especially important if you need a letter of recommendation from a teacher. Teachers have many students and they will most likely be swamped with students asking them for letters leading up to the day applications are due. By asking them early you will show them you are considerate of their time, and they will be more happy to help you.

5. Get involved

A critical part of any college application is the extracurricular section. Many universities actually ask you to write your admissions essays based off of your extracurricular involvement. The more involved you are in school activities, clubs, playing musical instruments or team sports the better! Admissions essays are usually only a few hundred words and you want yours to stand out. Clubs are also a great way to discover more about what interests you. It may seem far-fetched but it can lead you down a path to discovering your college major!