College Admissions Fundamentals (Updated for 2022)

Kickstarting your college application process
Free tutorial
Rating: 4.7 out of 5 (25 ratings)
1,244 students
29min of on-demand video
English [Auto]

How to get started applying to colleges or universities in the United States
How to brainstorm the common app essay
How to choose extracurriculars
The fundamentals of standardized testing


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In this course you will learn about the 5 fundamental building blocks of a college application--testing, GPA, extracurriculars, recommendations, and essays--and learn how to get started with everything from building your college list to choosing your extracurriculars to writing the common application personal statement.

Your professor is a Harvard and USC alum with ~10 years' experience in college advising. He has worked extensively with both domestic US applicants and international applicants looking to go to top-30 schools in the United States. This course covers the fundamentals so it should be useful for any 9th through 12th grader--or their parents-- who are gearing up to apply to college, whether applying to an Ivy, a state school, a liberal arts college or anything in between.

I know the college application process can seem like a LOT of work… because, well, it is. But that’s why in each lecture we will be breaking things down step-by-step into bite-sized pieces. The intent is to demystify what can often feel like an overly complex process.

As this is a “fundamentals” course, no prior experience is necessary. All you need is the desire to get into a school that’s a good fit for your interests and background. GOOD LUCK with your college application journey!

Who this course is for:

  • Parents of high school students
  • 11th and 12th grade students getting ready to apply to college
  • 9th and 10th grade students looking to prepare for their future college applications


Independent College Counselor
Samuel Johnson
  • 4.7 Instructor Rating
  • 25 Reviews
  • 1,244 Students
  • 1 Course

Born and raised in Manhattan, Sam Johnson attended some of the most competitive private schools in New York and has succeeded in the dog-eat-dog world of school applications since he was four-years-old (Ah, New York…) He is a graduate of Harvard University (BA, Russian Literature), where he was Editor and Vice President of the famed Harvard Lampoon.

Sam has worked as a Senior Admissions Consultant and guided hundreds of students to acceptance at the most competitive colleges, graduate schools, and MBA programs, including Stanford, The University of Chicago, Duke and more. Helping students choose their best stories and tell them in the most passionate, stirring, effective way is sort of his bread and butter – and he loves guiding students in choosing the kinds of activities, research, and summer programs that allow them to build those experiences.

Sam’s long familiarity with the college admissions process allows him to cut through the clutter so his students can focus on what matters: leadership, unique experiences and a compelling personal narrative. Sam loves helping students and their families break down the often nerve-racking experience of applying to college into manageable bite-sized steps. Sam’s view of writing the common essay or personal statement is informed by what he learned about screenwriting while pursuing his Master’s in film producing at the #1-ranked School of Cinematic Arts at USC. You need to capture your audience right from the get-go and give them a hero to root for (you…). Sam uses his experience as a screenwriter and former education blogger for the Huffington Post to help students do just that.

Lastly, having lived abroad in Shanghai, Sam particularly enjoys working with international students. And as an award-winning screenwriter, he has helped several students gain admission to highly-selective undergraduate film programs.

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