I'm a junior who doesn't have the luxury of an informative school counselor, so if anyone has any advice/tips for juniors like me who have no idea how to navigate college admissions or if they're on the right track toward good or even prestigious schools, put them here. What should juniors be doing right now and during the summer of their senior year to prepare for college?
Be as general as you'd like but for reference here are my specific stats: Unweighted GPA - 3.8, Weighted GPA - 4.2, PSAT score - 1110 (took it in September), SAT score - N/A (taking it next week and again during the summer), Extracurriculars - HOSA, FBLA, debate, NHS, book club, student council, basketball, track.
Intended college major(s) - bioethics (maybe African American studies for minor), Intended college track - premed
Hey! I'm a senior, and here are my top pieces of advice (geared towards test prep, essays, and general organization). All the websites mentioned are free to use. Hope this helps!
To prep for SATs, use practice tests! First, set a timer for the length of the section. When the timer goes off, put a star next to any questions you haven't finished, then continue working as long as you need. You can go back to questions you are unsure of, but if you change them DO NOT ERASE the old answer, just write the new answer beside it and be sure to put a star next to those as well. Then use the answer keys to give yourself 2 grades: one for the timed version, and one for the extra time version. This should give you a sense of whether you need to work on timing or content. ( LINK TO PRACTICE TESTS: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/practice/full-length-practice-tests )
https://blog.prepscholar.com/ is a great resource for improving SAT scores, writing essays, etc.
In terms of general organization, make a spreadsheet for all of your college application information so you don't have to check 7 different websites every day. Include stuff like EA deadlines, RD deadlines, cost, size, acceptance rates, net price, how many supplemental essays, decision dates, etc.
If you're having trouble writing essays, find a really well-written book. Something that's narratively interesting but also great in terms of diction and flow (I like realistic contemporary literature for this). Whenever you get stuck writing, take some time off to read the book. When I did this, I got "in the zone" by reading the book, shifted quickly to writing an essay, and accidentally maintained that flow which made the writing process easier. Try it and let me know what you think!
When brainstorming, QUANTITY OVER QUALITY. In the end you'll want to choose the best topic, but when brainstorming even put the worst ideas down on paper. It could inspire another, better idea, but even if it doesn't it's better to have a bad idea on paper rather than bouncing around in your head. I used this website, which deletes your progress if you stop typing for more than 5 seconds ( https://www.squibler.io/dangerous-writing-prompt-app/ ). Only use it for brainstorming, though, you don't want to lose an entire college essay!
Another brainstorming technique is to write down your entire life story. EVERYTHING you can remember about yourself, things you used to do with your family as a kid, hobbies you do now, big life changes and the pivotal moments relating to them, parts of your identity, important objects and where you got them from, etc. It will probably take up a lot of space, but it's a great for unearthing specific moments and themes in your life you may not have seen before. You can also use this massive document to get ideas for any supplemental essay you may come across.
For editing essays, I used a combination of grammarly.com and prowritingaid.com (I think you have to sign up for these, but you can make a free account). This is best if you're either really uncertain about catching grammar mistakes OR in a position where you can't get a peer review (eg. you're finishing up an essay an hour before the deadline). Use your best judgement with these, they're not infallible and may suggest some edits that don't sound right. If possible, get a human reviewer (ask a friend, ask a teacher, or use CollegeVine) for the final round of edits so that you can be sure the essay has good flow/doesn't sound choppy in places.
With essays, the more specific the better. You want to be writing a story that's memorable and something the admissions counselors have never seen before. Try to write about a specific moment that NOBODY else could've written about. Look up some videos about what college essays are used all the time, and be sure to avoid those.
Good luck with your applications!!
Wow, thank you for all of the advice!
Of course! :)
1. My counselor advised you start by making your college list as the basic starting point before senior year. For example one of my target schools is the University of Washington and they require you have at least one more credit in all core subjects from the required amount, so instead of 3 science credits they want 4, same for math and humanities. If you want to go to an Ivy or selective school you should try to take AP classes if your school offers them. If my counselor hadn't pointed this out it I might of hurt chances by not planning on taking a math class senior year. Since you have an idea of what you want to study you can start by googling what schools are known for having good programs in that area of study. when you get a basic list try to go to events hosted by the schools that caught your eye. These can vary from tours of the campus or basics of the school like special programs they offer. College vine hosts lots of these on here but if you don't find one from the school you want you can look on their website. Recently I learned that going to these events hosted by the schools adds some good points to your name because it shows you are interested, colleges will only admit students they think will enroll if admitted as I learned from one of the events I went to on here. If they feel they are your safety school (your backup school for if you don't get into your #1 choice) they might reject you. This is why some people get into ivys but rejected from some state schools.
2. Another thing you can start doing is applying to scholarships. The earlier you apply the better,lots of people assume you can only apply senior year this results in less applicants in scholarships for that are for juniors, raising your chances of winning.
There are lots of full ride merit scholarships along with others but be aware that some of the deadlines have already passed or are close to. Also be aware that some scholarships out there are fake, so make sure you only apply to legit ones. One site I really like for scholarships is bold.org a they constantly release new ones and you can apply to tons while keeping track of them all in the same account/website. The only downside is that most scholarships, especially ones that offer larger amounts will require essays so it can be very time consuming. I hope I didn't ramble to much and that this makes sense. Good luck on your journey!
Yeah, I also thought most scholarships were only for seniors so I'll try and find some to apply to now. Thanks!
I hope this helps! Sorry if the link is really long!
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