Stand Out From Your Competition
To get colleges to compete, you must be able to prove that you've been working hard to prepare for college while still in school. You can do this with good grades, high test scores, a respectable list of extracurricular activities, a record of community service and a skill or talent that sets you apart from the sea of other applicants. You might also consider taking advanced placement courses while in high school. In short, make your college applications shine.
Present a Positive Self-Image
College admissions offices are looking for students who will have a positive impact on their institution. You can get noticed by these schools if you take the time to create an online presence that highlights your abilities. First, you'll want to make sure your social network profiles are free of inappropriate language or photos. Also, consider creating a website that focuses on your talents and activities. You can include your website address with your application.
Apply to Multiple Schools
You might have a dream school or a top choice in mind, but applying to more than one school is the only way to get schools to compete for you. Furthermore, research has shown that students who apply to multiple colleges get more financial aid than students who submit their application to only one school. This is especially true of low- to middle-income students.
Compare and Share Financial Aid Offers
Financial aid offers typically arrive in early spring. You should compare offers carefully to see how much each school is willing to give. If one school is giving more money than another, do not hesitate to share this information with your desired school. There are a number of schools with a matching policy--if 'School A' is willing to offer 'x' amount of dollars, 'School B' will often times match the award (particularly for a good student). But you have to be willing to negotiate and, if necessary, play hardball to get what you want.