I'm sure that all of the freshmen, like me, have celebrated our admissions during summer break. Nevertheless, it is our turn to advise the next generation that will apply to college this year. So, high school seniors, here are six things you'll certainly go through during your admissions process.
1. Panic that you're a senior.
Yeah, like us, you will have a moment when you will notice that you are going to college next year. However, you have to first be accepted to a college. Furthermore, you need to start your Common Application or Universal College Application. I know, and it is just the beginning of September. Unfortunately, you will realize that senior year isn't anything like High School Musical. *cries in a corner*
2. Apply to colleges.
It is important to have a dream school and several back-up schools. A common piece of advice is to classify your schools into three groups: Schools you're certain you can get into, schools you aren't sure you can get into, and schools you love but you're less likely to get into. Nevertheless, don't be afraid of applying to "hard-to-get-into" schools. You never know what can happen.
3. Ace the SAT, get A's and do extracurricular activities.
Although you might have taken the SAT/ACT several times, try to take it one more time to boost your score. Some schools don't see your overall score from a specific SAT but rather see your best score in each section from two different SAT dates. But wait. Taking the exam again implies sitting in a high school room for more than three hours while your hands are sweating and your levels of stress are at their highest point, so only take tests again if you really need to.
Remember that grades don't define you. Having straight A's doesn't imply you'll get into a college. What is essential is that you do your best. So, don't worry that you're struggling in a certain class. Big tip: After you get accepted to one or more schools, please, maintain your grades. This is really important. Some colleges will withdraw your admission if your grades fall.
Be adventurous. Start a clown club, join the debate team, try the basketball team... However, the key for this one is not how many extracurriculars you do, but how much you get involved in them.
4. Writing college essays and finding teachers to give recommendations.
Here is a big tip for college essays: Don't stress about memorizing every item on your future university's website, seeing every virtual campus tour, liking their Facebook page, etc. What schools really look for is that the student shows their genuine interest in their essay. For example, if there is an activity you really like such as ballet, explain how you would fit in their ballet club. Or, if you are curious about the development of Latin American countries, mention in your essay how their program would give you the tools to deepen your interest. No, you won't show "genuine interest" by memorizing and writing all of the teachers' names in your essays. Don't do that.
Don't be embarrassed to ask for recommendations from your teachers, coaches and counselors. They will be super excited to help you. Nevertheless, remind them once in a while after you've asked them, because deadlines come quicker than you think.
This step is probably the hardest. You have already sent in your applications. Whatever happens, remind yourselves how hard you have worked for this. Check when decisions will be released on your school's website and wait. Checking your email every five minutes won't make your decision appear magically.
Enjoy this time. You have been through a lot of stress during all the admissions process. Relax now.
6. "Decisions released."
Finally, the day will come. A new notification will sparkle on your phone's screen. Whether you are accepted or rejected to your "dream school," you'll learn something everyone learns that day.
It is OK if things do not go as planned. And if they do, then it is OK, too! What matters is what you are going to do after that email; what you are going to do to accomplish your goals. After all, college is just one of the bridges to your dreams — not your dreams themselves.
What the admission process teaches is how to view our future selves. It asks us what we are doing to become the person we want to be. It teaches us persistence, courage and patience. And it gives us an introduction to the adventure we're about to begin.
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