Top College Guru: College Success Step by Step

The Top College Guru Blog

How to Improve Your College Applications During Covid-19

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt countless businesses, schools, and community institutions we have been given a precious opportunity to stop and appreciate the “little things” we often take for granted. 

Whether that means we take more walks throughout the day, or spend time with our families, this gift of time helps us to pause, take a break, and re-focus on what’s important. 

However, one thing most people don’t consider is that this “time off” is a perfect time to also strengthen your college application.

 Before we understand how you can use this time to leverage your college application, let’s take a look at how the college admissions process is being impacted: 

  1. Typically, GPA’s are assessed from the beginning of Freshman year to the end of Junior year of High School. However due to schools closing indefinitely, college admissions officers will have to re-evaluate and set a new standard of required grades....
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What can we learn about college applications from social media influencers?

What can we learn about college applications from social media influencers?

In a world where after 48 hours people only retain 1% of the content they have been exposed to, it’s imperative to separate oneself from the crowd to influence an application reviewer’s decision towards you. And the number one way to influence people towards you is to grab their attention. 

The first thing you need to take into account is gaining people’s attention is a privilege, not a right. They are not forced to listen to what your content is. They choose to. In order to move them towards you it is important that you are relatable and unique. 

An example would be using personal stories to share your experiences. Many times applicants list statistics and accomplishments, but they don’t explain the story behind how they achieved them. Thinking about social media influencers, is their own personal experiences (not lists of facts and figures) are what get your attention and...

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What I Learned About College Apps From Valentine’s Day

admissions Feb 14, 2020


College application season is fast approaching and so is Valentine’s Day! As we look towards crafting the perfect applications, and the perfect “Love Day” gifts, we must realize that there are important skills to make you stand out not only to admissions teams but also to your significant other.

Whether this is your first Valentine’s day or your 20th here is one important rule of thumb to always keep in mind:

Instead of “fishing around”, make your Significant Other (S/O) (and your target school!) feel like they’re the only one you have in mind.

This will not only help you strengthen the connection between you and your significant other, but will also help you stand out during the college admissions process. Let’s take a closer look.

Regardless of the colleges you’re applying to, they are guaranteed to have a large amount of applications they have to sort through, and one of the biggest challenges you will inevitably...

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How Do Colleges Look At AP Classes?

One of the most common questions I get from parents and students have is, “How do colleges look at AP classes on my transcript?” Let’s go over some of the Pros and Cons!

Advanced Placement classes (or AP) are courses you can take on your high school campus that lead to the opportunity to earn college credit. They are more challenging than your regular high school curriculum, and often include material that is comparable to Freshman or Sophomore level collegiate work. Depending on what your high school offers, courses are available in everything from Music Theory, European History, Calculus, Chemistry, and more.

However in order to be eligible for college credit, you must successfully take (and pass!) the AP exam at the end of the academic year.

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So how do colleges look at AP Classes?

Very favorably. Often one of the things colleges evaluate in your transcript is the level of academic rigor you have undertaken, and AP classes are a great way to show that you have...

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One Mom's Insight


A lot of people ask me about how they can get scholarships, and if I can share any secrets to getting them.

Honestly, one of my first answers is: you need the right Perspective. You need to understand, like anything else of real value, scholarships take work, and to be successful you need to be diligent. And being diligent has its rewards! Let me explain with this story.

I have a friend whose family wanted to send him to college, but they simply didn’t have the funds. His Mom had heard about scholarships and asked her son to do as much research, and apply to as many scholarships as possible.

And so by the end of his Sophomore year, my friend began to enthusiastically search and look at all the options. He completed applications, sent them to various organizations, and got hustling. Well, despite a strong start he got a few rejection letters, and he missed some deadlines… and so getting discouraged… his efforts lagged. He even complained, "Why do I have to do all...

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Your Biggest Hurdle to Getting Scholarships

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Your Biggest Hurdle Is Right In Front of You

Have you ever had a HUGE task you’ve complete procrastinated and the thought of even starting gave you anxiety?

 Maybe it was a huge project you know you need to get started on.

 Or maybe it was getting something fixed that you’ve been putting off.

 Well, whatever it was… chances are a little procrastination here and there probably didn’t severely impact your life. Let me explain.

 That delayed project start? The worst that happened was probably a lower grade or even an all-nighter to get it done.

 That thing that needed fixing? You probably went on living life as normal until it REALLY needed fixing. Maybe it took up a full Saturday or two.

throw lake GIF by BuzzFeed Animation

Procrastinating College Prep Doesn't Pay

The problem is, preparing to pay for college -and especially the scholarship search-- is the complete opposite. Procrastination? Delaying? These things WILL have severe consequences… because...

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The Three Ways to Pay for College

Madagscar Penguins GIF - Madagscar Penguins IMakeMyOwnOptions GIFsWhen it comes to paying for college… you have three options.

That’s right: Three Options.

To be honest, most people preparing for college never think about it in this way… but after years of coaching students and their families I’m here to tell you it all boils down to these three:

You can either pay for it with your money, free money, or loans.

Let’s break these down and go over why this matters.


Paying for college with your own money means using… (wait for it)… YOUR money. This can either be in the form of cash from under the mattress, savings, and investment accounts, or other vehicles for your money 

While using your own money is great, there are two downsides:

  1. Once you use it, it’s gone. You can’t use it for anything else…
  2. Most people don’t have anywhere near enough saved up

As I’ve mentioned before, the average family has only $18,000 saved up for college. But most families...

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The One Thing You Need To Do Today

Fox Photos/Getty ImagesImage Credit: Getty Images

Let's face it. College is critical to your future, but it's expensive.

One study says that the average amount of college savings a family has is $18,000. If that’s the case, then with tuition expenses continuing to rise, the average family's college savings are gone after the first semester of college. 

People ask me all the time, "Whats the one thing I need to do to start preparing to pay for college?"

My response surprises them... because they aren't expecting this piece of advice.

My answer?

"Think differently."

It starts with changing your mind-set. We need to change how you think about paying for college.

Let me explain.

Have you ever heard of the Eisenhower Method?

Before Dwight D. Eisenhower became the 34th President, he was the general of the US Army and also served as the head of the Allied Forces in World War II. His success as a leader depended on his ability to determine what the highest priority decisions were, and go...

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Welcome to!

My name is Christian Hansen, and I'm the Top College Guru.

Have you ever worked really hard for something and felt like you were just spinning your wheels and not going anywhere? I sure have. In fact, when I was preparing for college and making plans for my future I felt like that all the time - and even worse - felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. 

It wasn't until years later that I learned this valuable lesson: Effort does not equal success. 

"Hold up!" I hear you say, "Aren't we supposed to work hard? Aren't we supposed to put forth effort in order to succeed?"

Absolutely. Yes.

Effort is CRITICAL.

But effort alone doesn't equal success. In many cases it is a precursor to success, the foundation of success... but it is not the same as success.

Yes, effort is integral... but it is incomplete. Because it's only half the equation. Success is contingent on effort combined with... a winning plan. A strategy. A direction.

I may give effort...

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