Posts Tagged “applying to college”

Q: What are some things that will help me stand out on my application and also give me a better chance of getting in?

–Anonymous, Woodinville, WA

A: Applying to college is kinda like dating. First, you get to figure out which schools are interesting to you and then the colleges decide whether or not they want to take it to the next level based on the first impressions they get from your application. And the way to “wow” the admissions office is with a stellar academic reputation and a killer personality.

The foundation of any great college application is a solid academic performance, so focus on getting good grades and taking challenging courses throughout all four years of high school. However, just acing your classes isn’t quite enough to turn the head of a college admission officer. Sure, grades and test scores are important, but colleges are really interested in the personalities and passion behind the numbers.

Colleges want to know the types of things that interest you and how you might make an impact on their campus. It’s important to show a college that you care about something, so the key is to demonstrate your passions and personality through the activities, leadership positions, and extracurricular pursuits that take up your time outside the classroom.

But be wary about cramming your app with what may appear to be surface level interests. It’s much more impressive to spend three-four years committed to a few teams, activities, or organizations than to have tons of short-term involvements or to invent a new club of which you can conveniently became president fall semester of your senior year.

When it comes time to fill out your apps, remember to be yourself. If you’ve worked hard in the classroom and committed yourself to a few passions, you should be confident about articulating just what an amazing person you are to the admissions office! And P.S. don’t forget to proofread!

For more of my answers to your college and career questions, check out my college Q&A on Seventeen!

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Q: “I’ll be a senior in high school next year and still have no clue what I want to do. Help!”

–Brittney, 17, Calhoun, LA
A: Don’t worry; you’re not alone! High school goes by so quickly, and suddenly there are so many decisions to be made. Do you want to go to school? Get a job? Take a year off? Go to a four-year or two-year college? Try out a vocational program like cosmetology or fashion design?

The choices can be overwhelming, but it’s important to think through your options so that if you do, say, want to go to college, you’re not missing out on any important steps you need to take to get there. The first question you need to answer is whether or not you want to continue your education after high school. (If your answer is yes, skip to the next paragraph.) If you don’t want to continue your education beyond high school, then you can start looking into job opportunities during your senior year. But if there’s any part of you that might want to go back to school at some point, then make sure you don’t slack off during senior year. Colleges will still take into consideration your high school transcript even if you apply several years after you graduate.

If college or a two-year program is something you see in your future, then make sure you keep up your grades and meet all the basic requirements for admission (i.e., take the necessary math, English, science, and foreign language classes; sign up for standardized tests). Apply to a variety of schools, so that you keep your options open after you graduate. You can always decide in the spring of your senior year whether or not you want to go directly into a four-year college, take a year off, or do a two-year program at a community college or vocational school.

Visiting campuses or programs during your senior year may help you figure out what you want to do after you graduate. Sometimes you just don’t know until you see the possibilities that are out there! Good luck!

For more of my answers to your college and career questions, check out Seventeen’s College Q&A!

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Looking for a little extra help with the SAT or maybe AP History or Algebra II? Brightstorm is a new online learning destination for teens that boasts some awesome teachers breaking down some of the tougher academic subjects.  It’s not meant to replace your high school courses but supplement what you’re learning in the classroom.  Think tutoring…wherever, whenever, and at an affordable price: a 12-month course subscription is just $49!  Brightstorm was recently featured in the New York Times and seems like an exciting and cost-effective alternative to some of the pricier test prep or tutoring.  Try it out for free at www.brightstorm.com

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Q: “My first two years of high school were not so good, I got B’s and C’s but my junior year I got all A’s and I plan to do the same next year. Will my first two years of high school drastically affect my going to a really good college?”

–Genesis, 17, Houson, TX

A: First off, you deserve some props for working so hard junior year, and if you keep up that trend it’s definitely going to make a difference in your college applications come senior year. So just how big of a difference will it make? Well, it’s true that colleges take into account grades from all four years of high school, but junior and senior year tend to carry the most weight since more often than not the toughest classes are taken during this time. Plus they reflect your most recent work ethic which, let’s be honest, may have gotten a little more serious since 9th grade health.

As far as getting into a really good college goes, it all depends on your definition of really good. If you’re talking Harvard, well, your earlier grades may make admission a bit of stretch, but there are plenty of great schools that admit students with less than perfect GPAs. You just want to have realistic expectations, so when you’re making a college list check out the stats for the previous year’s admitted class at every school where you’re thinking of applying. You can typically find these on a school’s admission website, and it’ll have loads of info like the average SAT scores and GPAs of admitted students. Once you’re armed with that information you’ll know if a particular school is a reach, a good match, or a safety, and that can help you make a decision about whether or not to apply. Sounds like you’re on the right path, so keep up the good work!

As first seen on Seventeen’s College Q&A.

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