College-Savvy Tips for Teens

college tips

Content sponsored by Wayne County Community College District.

Getting into college can be a grueling process. But angling for acceptance to 50 colleges? That takes dedication – and that’s exactly what Michael Love has. This 17-year-old graduated from Cornerstone Health + Technology High School in Detroit this past spring.

There, he set a personal goal to apply to 50 colleges and get offered $500,000 in scholarships. “Nobody told me to set those goals. I did that myself,” he says. “I stayed up until 12, 1 a.m. – late at night after basketball practice – just to do that.”

Ultimately, he was accepted to 45 of those schools – and offered more than $623,419 in scholarships, with two schools offering a full ride. As the acceptance letters poured in – from Oakland University to the University of Arizona, Georgetown College and other schools all over the country – Love celebrated each and every one.

“I’ve been excited every time,” says Love, who decided to study aerospace engineering at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis. “A lot of students don’t even get $1 from a school. I’m just so blessed.” And this Detroiter wants other high schoolers to experience the same thing. He also thinks African American males don’t always get the encouragement to focus on academics.


“I wanted to show the male community that it’s not all about sports, it can be academics too,” says Love, who’s participated in National Honors Society and other academic extracurriculars in addition to playing varsity sports.

He’s even written a book – LEAP: Let Education Accelerate Progress – to inspire other kids to follow suit. “You don’t have to be the 4.0 student that you always hear about,” he says. “As long as you stay focused and put in the work, you can do it.”

Here, Love offers his six tips for high schoolers just starting the college application process.

1. Explore multiple colleges and programs

Go to as many college tours and admissions events as you can to help you get a feel for what the school is like. Open your mind to options, too. “You don’t have to go to a big school to have a good education.”

2. Get involved

Take part in extracurricular activities to help you discover your passions and stand out on applications. Love has been involved in many programs, and, “It’s helped me get in the community.”

3. Study for admissions tests

Standardized test scores, like the ACT and SAT, matter – so don’t just wing it. Even if you aren’t the best test-taker (Love says he’s not), it helps to prep for these tests in advance. “Make sure you study.”

4. Apply for scholarships

College costs are always rising and every scholarship dollar counts, Love emphasizes. “You need to apply to scholarships as early as possible,” even before you start high school. “You might apply to 100 scholarships, but let’s say you just get one – that’s $500 or $1,000. Every one counts.”

5. Find a good-fit program

“Make sure you look at a major that fits you.” Love wanted to study business but now plans to be an aerospace engineer and partner with places like NASA and Boeing. Once he got a chance to explore the inside of different aircrafts, he realized aerospace engineering was the right program for him. “Just make sure you want to go to a major or a program that fits to you.”

6. Don’t stop pushing yourself

“You always have to inspire yourself even when other people are not helping you. Just keep pushing yourself, and it can add up in the long run.”

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