Do not wait until your senior year in high school to start looking into colleges. Various colleges and universities look for different things when it comes to their admissions process. You will want to have researched your colleges of choice in order to know what requirements they place high value to and meet them within a specific time frame. Also make sure to have your “basic” core work covered.
Your high school course work is vital for every application. GPAs may vary for different colleges, but these classes are a must for most.
- Four years of English
- Two to three or years of mathematics
- Two to three years of science
- Two to three years of social science
- Two to three years of one foreign language.
Colleges not only look at your grades, but also the courses themselves. Advanced placement (AP) and honors classes weigh in a little higher than your standard classes. They also look at your achievements and athletics honors, since they may give an indication of your success in your chosen major.
Extracurricular and community service activities are a good addition to your academics. This shows colleges how much of a well-rounded individual you are.
Researching different schools you will also find that they have varying minimum requirements for their standardized test (SAT/ACT) and GPAs.
Your College Application
Learning what specific schools are looking for will also be very helpful in making sure your college application looks its best. Within your application you will usually need a few things: an essay, teacher recommendations and sometimes a personal interview.
Personal Essay – This will not outweigh GPA or test scores in importance, but a captivating and well-written one may be a deciding factor between others with similar academic backgrounds. It makes a student more memorable to an admissions officer.
Teacher Recommendation – Choose a teacher that knows your academic record and can speak toward your character as a student and a person. There may be accomplishments or traits that you want them to mention, so make sure to talk to your teacher about what to touch upon.
Personal Interview – Some schools may require a one-to-one interview which can be a general interview for all applicants or a targeted interview for those in the final process of admissions.
Consider taking the PSAT your junior year in high school. This will help familiarize you with the format and it is a good practice.
Do not wait until your senior year to put everything together. Start getting your records and recommendations as early as your junior year.
If you see a school that you are interested in has set admissions requirements that you don’t exactly meet, do not count yourself out. It does not necessarily mean that you will not get in. If you are close and excelled in other areas, you still have a chance. Go ahead and apply.
This process does not have to be as stressful or as fearful as you may believe. With good time management skills and a little perseverance everything will fall into place. Good luck.