The Inside Scoop on COLLEGE: A Senior’s Advice to Underclassmen

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Courtesy of www.thsc.org

Courtesy of www.thsc.org

Courtesy of www.thsc.org

Charlotte Gemperle ‘18, Arts and Entertainment Editor

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The month of May is a joyful time for the seniors, who have survived the college process and are winding down to enjoy the last few weeks of high school. The juniors, on the other hand, are just gearing up for what will dominate the next six months of their lives: college applications.

The college process can seem daunting, with deadlines to meet, standardized tests to study for, and generally trying to present yourself in the best way possible – but don’t worry! I’ve been there, and I’ve got your back!

#1: Start EARLY

You’ve all heard this before, but this is something that I cannot stress enough. A lot of you may be planning to finish your applications over the summer; while this is a great idea, remember that on top of internships, vacations, summer homework, and SAT or ACT preparation, the work can pile up quickly! Bottom line, definitely start your applications over the summer but don’t stress if you can’t finish everything before school starts. Most people don’t, and everything works out in the end.

#2: Do something over the summer!

Colleges are really looking for interesting people who pursue what they’re passionate about. Do you love community service? Try volunteering! Are you into science? Look for an internship! There’s no wrong answer here; colleges just want to see that you’re doing something productive with your time.

#3: ACT or SAT…?

A very commonly asked question is, “Should I take the ACT or the SAT?” I would recommend taking a practice ACT and SAT, and see which you feel more comfortable with. If you still feel conflicted, try asking your college counselor. What really makes the ACT difficult is the time pressure. You have to work fast, or you won’t finish! Also, the ACT has a science section, while the SAT does not. However, if you are not a science person, don’t let this deter you! The ACT science section is basically another reading comprehension section with extra tables and graphs to analyze. You have slightly more time for each section on the SAT, but the material might be slightly harder. It really just comes down to personal preference and lots of practice!

Keep in mind that you have to send all SAT scores to colleges, but you can pick and choose which ACT scores to send.

#4: What are Subject Tests, and do I need to take them?

Subject Tests are meant to supplement your grades and AP tests, and prove your proficiency in certain subjects. Most colleges do not require subject tests; however, many of the more selective ones do. Start by researching which schools require or recommend subject tests, and then choose subjects that you’re good at or that coincide with your intended major. Talk to your college counselor if you don’t know which exams to take, or whether you should take any.

*When colleges say they “recommend” subject tests, this usually means that they require them. Without them, you will have little chance of admission.

*Scoring is subjective and varies from school to school. However, competitive applicants generally shoot for a 650 or above, since the tests are scored out of 800.

#5: Choosing Which Colleges to Apply to

With thousands of colleges in the US alone, finding the right one can feel overwhelming. My best advice is to meet with your college counselor and discuss your interests and preferences with them. Put in the time and effort to discover what is important to you. I promise you will find the perfect school for you – and there isn’t just one place where you will be happy!

#6: College Interviews

In case any of you might feel worried about college interviews, don’t stress. Not all colleges require or even offer interviews. Oftentimes the more selective colleges require them because they get so many outstanding applicants each year. Look at this as an opportunity to express yourself and show off your strengths. This won’t make or break your admission decision; colleges simply want to get to know you beyond your application!

*Though every college interview is different, you should be prepared to talk about yourself, your interests, and why you want to attend their school.

#7: Prestige isn’t everything

Don’t feel pressured to only apply to “well-known” or “highly ranked” colleges, and don’t feel obligated to attend the most “prestigious” school you get into! Listen to your college counselor’s suggestions and do some research before deciding if the college is the right fit for you. After all, you will spend the next four years (or more) at this university, so you want to make sure that you enjoy it!

*The name of the school will only get you so far. It matters much more what you do in college, rather than where you are.

#8: Choosing a major

Some people know exactly what they want to be when they grow up; I am not one of those people. Much of college is having the freedom to study what you want, and discover what you are interested in. There’s nothing wrong with applying undecided, or with not knowing which career path to pursue. THAT’S WHAT COLLEGE IS FOR! 🙂  However, if you know exactly what you’re passionate about, go for it! Still, make sure to research each school’s major selection before making a choice. Remember, you can always change your major later!

Good luck to all the rising seniors!

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1 Comment

One Response to “The Inside Scoop on COLLEGE: A Senior’s Advice to Underclassmen”

  1. Amie Kosberg on May 22nd, 2018 12:36 pm

    Brilliant (Brillante)! I love #7, so true.

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The Inside Scoop on COLLEGE: A Senior’s Advice to Underclassmen