How can I improve my college application?Answered
I'm a sophomore at a magnet arts school
My class has a little under 70 people
Haven't taken SAT but I have gotten over 1500 on practice tests
Extracurriculars include: NHS, National Arts Honor society, dance for 12 years, applying for asb positions, after the coronavirus stuff calms down I'll get to start doing a volunteer program at a hospital that will require me to volunteer 4 hours a week, tutoring.
Just to answer some questions and give additional information
I want a school that is both strong in science and humanities (I love science, but i’m also a history nerd). I would love to go to a top research school though I’m also realistic and I know my chances are slim for my dream schools. My goal is to at least get into University of Washington.
I have multiple interests so I don’t really know what I want to major in, but now I’m mostly interested in biology/pre-med and also history.
My school doesn't offer IB, honors, or dual enrollment classes. It does offer 9 AP classes and I plan throughout high school taking 8 AP classes (I do not want to take AP Music theory). I hope that this doesn’t make me look worse compared to other students
I definitely want to improve my extracurriculars the most and I want to take advantage of all the free time I have right now.
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Hey @Anib, thanks for the question! It looks like you're off to a great start with your application. You have a strong GPA, sounds like you'll have a strong SAT score, and are well on your way to building a strong EC profile. What types of schools are you looking to get into and what are you hoping to study? While the process for improving your application will largely be the same regardless of your answers to those questions it might help me provide more specific advice.
Many schools nowadays have what is called a holistic application process, they will look at a student's unique experiences alongside traditional academic achievements like grades, classes, test scores, etc. In order for them to look at all your other experiences a school will often expect its applicants to have reached some minimum requirement of academic achievement. That's not to say you won't have your application looked at by a top school if you have a 3.0 GPA, it just means it might be a bit more difficult and you'll really need to WOW them with your extracurriculars. So with that out of the way let's take a look at your profile.
You are in a great spot with your GPA. It might seem obvious but continue to strive for as high of a GPA as possible. The higher your GPA the more likely you will be to have your application fully reviewed by an admissions officer. With a 3.9 you'll pass any minimum requirement any school has I'd imagine.
Related to your GPA is your class rigor. You didn't provide any information on your classes (which is fine!) so this will be basic information to help you. I'm more than happy to answer follow-up questions if you have them. You're going to want to push yourself academically as much as possible without causing yourself too much stress. Colleges love to see students challenging themselves academically so take as many AP/IB classes and honors classes as you feel comfortable doing. If those classes can relate to your future major that's even better. If your school offers dual enrollment classes that is something you might want to consider but I'd aim for taking APs over a dual enrollment class if possible.
Your practice SAT score is in a strong spot. If you can score a 1500 on the real SAT and do well on the essay you can essentially consider yourself done with needing to take the test. While you might get a small boost from increasing your score higher than a 1500 it honestly is unlikely to be worth the amount of time you'd need to invest in order to increase your score. Since so many colleges look at applications with a holistic view it would probably be better to spend extra time working on ECs compared to more studying.
Speaking of ECs, they are an area where you can expect to differentiate yourself from other applicants and play an important role in your application. You're off to a good start with your ECs, but I'd say right now you're going to want to improve those once things calm down. Generally, colleges are going to evaluate your ECs by the level of commitment required. What that means is they're going to look at: how much time was committed, how much initiative did you take to get (and stay) involved, what level are you involved at (think regional, state, national), and what leadership or responsibilities did you end up with. With the ECs you have now it would make sense to look for leadership positions in NHS and the Arts Honors society in addition to the ASB positions. Dance, and hopefully your volunteer work, seem like both great things for long-term commitment and dedication. If possible I'd look to add another EC related to something you want to study in college or, if you're looking into medicine, maybe expanding your volunteer hours. Summer programs are also an option, especially if you can get into one that has a competitive application process. For right now, I wonder if you can help contribute to fighting the coronavirus in your community in some way? That could be through organizing groups to fundraise for people who might have lost jobs, or bringing food to people, or something else entirely.
Overall I think you're in a fantastic spot. If you keep doing what you're doing while building on your profile you will have a solid shot at some great schools.
One thing I would recommend is trying to start a club at your school. It should definitely focus on the career/major path you want to go down, and if you're not sure, try and thing about the broad field you're interested in, like science or visual arts, and create a club like that. Make sure you have teachers you can rely on for letters, and try and do summer programs, especially prestigious ones geared around a university you might attend. Also, make sure you're doing the best tier you can reach for your activities, and try and do other unique ones, like research, or music. I really hope this helps, apologies if it's not what you were looking for!
You're doing better than i am but from my understanding for the top tier public schools such as UMich or UNC chappel hill try improving essays and expand your horizions for ECs surrounding your major ex debate for communacation
Colleges often look for places of leadership and specialization. If you have the time, it may look good to run for your National Honor Society and/or National Arts Honor Society president or leadership in your future years of membership. Also, many years of a practice look good to colleges, but if you haven't won any awards or shown improvement through recognition in that category, it might not sway colleges as much as achieving an award in a hobby you haven't spent as much time in. Below I have linked a site called 'Prep Scholar' made by perfect-scoring and 99th percentile Harvard students to help improve SAT Prep and give incite into what colleges look for and what they see in your application.
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