Hello everyone, I am currently a sophomore in high school and also an incoming junior in the next couple of months. I am currently worried of the classes and extracurricular activities I take compared to the my peers in high school. This year, I am taking APHG, Eng. II Honors, Algebra II, Spanish III, Chemistry, and P.E (Kinesiology). However, when I look at my friends and what my peers do, I get this feeling of where I am behind and alone. I have gotten many mental breakdowns of this happening and always ask myself this question, "Is this enough?" In addition, I barely have done hours in the two clubs I have applied for this year. However, I am 100% planning on taking doing USB or ASB, as well as doing different clubs. I'm thinking on doing 2-3 clubs and my friend is going to help me become a position in one of them. I feel like what I should have been doing is too late and is not enough compared to my peers. Plus, the high school I go to is mostly the same race as I am and is known for being highly competitive. Hence, my chances of being accepted into my dream colleges are slim. Many graduates this year from my school have gotten accepted to Harvard, Yale, UPenn, USC, UCLA, and more. One family member who I am really close to always gives me a weekly reminder of going to Johns Hopkins University or top UC colleges. I want to be a pediatrician and he believes that this is the best school for me to attend and is upset of what college my older brother goes to. He always wanted to have one of the family members to become a doctor and it is now up to me. Plus, my aunt is a pulmonologist that also attended Johns Hopkins University, making it another good reason of why my family member wants me to get attended. So, any high school seniors or college students out there willing to give me advice and have experienced the same thing that I am going through? Anything will help :)
Hello! Let me start off by saying that I am currently an incoming Sophomore. However, while I may not have much long-term expertise, I can definitely relate to what you are experiencing at the moment. I'll try to give some thoughts to each topic of which you described.
✨Class rigor ✨
MY OPINION: Assuming you did not take any AP classes freshman year, you already have one AP class under your belt. I'm not going to sugarcoat things and will say that other applicants who want to go to the schools you want to go to may have a higher class rigor. This is just something I want you to keep in mind. BUT! This absolutely does not mean your chances are ruined in the class rigor category. Obviously, this will range depending on how many AP classes your school offers, but the golden number of AP classes to take for these top schools is generally 7-12 (according to applicants who were accepted into schools such as the Ivy League). I highly suggest researching this to go deeper into the topic, but colleges (most of the time) really don't see a difference between someone who, say took 8 AP classes instead of 9 AP classes. What I am trying to say is adding on one or two AP classes won't make a huge difference once you reach a certain threshold (generally 7-12, as said before). Plus, dropping that extra AP could save you a LOT of stress.
HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO YOU?: Let me start out by saying that I have no clue how many AP classes your school offers, so I might not be able to give you an accurate amount of what you should try to take. My school, for example, offers 23 AP classes and I am planning to take 8. This ratio isn't too bad, but this is just an example. If your school offers 12, try to take 7. If your school offers 40... well maybe don't try to take the majority of those :). My overall suggestion for you is to try to take three AP classes junior year and another three AP classes senior year. But, I don't want you to be stressed as high school should not be all about school work. However, if you are doing well in your classes, challenging yourself academically can be quite rewarding.
MY OPINION: Ah, good old extracurriculars... the scariest part of the application for me. Let me start off by saying YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I know it might seem stressful to see everyone around you doing all these amazing activities and I totally get it. Even so, you seem to have a plan and, as long as you stick with it, I'm sure you'll do great! Try not to overload your extracurricular list with clubs though, variety is good (unless you are extremely passionate in many clubs, then include them!). If you can have an officer position in 2 clubs I think that is incredible. The good news for you is, if you can become an officer in even just one club during junior year and maybe president in your senior year, you can show colleges not only a strong but also long-term commitment to your club! Think about it: "Indeed I have been apart of [insert club name here] club, and was treasurer during my junior year AND president my senior year. Yup! I'm just that amazing." Come on, you can't tell me that doesn't sound impressive. And that's just in ONE club! Two? Wow, that would be extremely impressive.
MY ADVICE FOR YOU: If you can hold leadership and maybe even become president of one or two clubs, those are solid extracurricular achievements right there and could very well impress colleges. Now, lets look at what else you can do. Remember, junior year is PRIME TIME for extracurriculars, essays, AP's... practically everything. For you, this year could hold your big 🙌 extracurricular spike 🙌. You want to be a pediatrician right? Maybe...
- shadow someone of importance near where you live
- conduct independent research or participate in research internships in your area (this will involve sending MANY cold emails to professors or other mentors)
- teach others about your passion! since we are still in COVID, what about hosting online classes for elementary or middle schoolers who are interested in your field?
- go online and find some science-related (or related to other hobbies) contests! This would be good for your award section in your application.
- in the summer before your senior year, do a program at a prestigious university! The only downside to this is it could be expensive. BUT, you can earn college credits!! 👀
these are just some activities off the top of my head... there are many more!
DO NOT OVERLOOK...
- SAT/ACTs: this may not impact you as universities may remain test optional for your graduating class, but it is good to look into.
- letters of recommendation: befriend your teachers! show enthusiasm in their classes! become the student they always look forward to teaching. they will gladly write your letters of recommendation this way.
- essays: this is a huge part of the application. picture this scenario: you are an admission officer and, after hours of reading stereotypical essays with common themes, you are exhausted from the repetition. But then, BOOM! a beautifully written and entertaining essay that makes you smile, showcasing the personality of the writer perfectly right before your eyes. Yup, you will definitely leave a kind note for the future - maybe even a note that says: "would be a great acceptance" (maybe???). I know it is soon, but start looking at prompts for each of the major schools you are applying to. Maybe begin coming up with ideas? the summer before your senior year would be a great time to start writing these essays, so save yourself the trouble down the road.
- HAVE FUN! I know college applications can be stressful, and this is quite hypocritical of me saying this, but high school is not all about grades. We often tell ourselves the following... after I graduate, then I'll be happy. after I have a stable job, then I'll be happy. after I'm retired, then I'll be happy... the list goes on and on. Sure, thinking about the future is beneficial, but don't forget to live in the moment! If you are passionate about your field of study (becoming a pediatrician) you are going to succeed in life no matter what college you go to. Trust me, it's kind of rare to find a doctor who went to Harvard. Even if you went to a state school, the only thing that could ever hold you back is yourself. Keep pushing your boundaries and step out of your comfort zone whenever you get the chance. Form connections with others, which will be crucial in the workplace.
Well, there is my point of view on this. I hope it was somewhat helpful! Know that, whatever college you get accepted to is the college where you are meant to be (i know this is said a lot, but it cannot be more true). Whether that may be Johns Hopkins or the University of Washington, you will do great things. College is just that next step to what is waiting for you in life. As long as you don't stray from your path and treat others with kindness, don't worry about the future - it will sort itself out.
You are doing amazing! You've got 2 more years to go and if you keep this up, you'll definitely get into an Ivy League. Don't worry about the peer pressure because, well, I'll be honest, there will always be competition in school, college, etc., and someone who seems to be doing better than you. But that doesn't mean you're not doing enough. You are doing more than enough right now, so don't stress too much about it. Stressing out will only hinder you. And as for the family member, yes, it's great that you might be able to go to John Hopkins, but even if you don't go there for whatever reason, that's fine too. After all, it's up to you to figure out what's best for you. John Hopkins is great for med school, but for college it might be better to go to an Ivy League or other good colleges. When researching into colleges, do not think too much about your family's expectations. Analyze colleges while considering only what's best for you. And your family may be right, but you shouldn't let that stress you out. Talk to your academic advisor at school about what's best for your high school and college plans. When you research colleges, take that into consideration. Put your family members' expectations a bit lower down your list of priorities because I have no doubt in my mind that you will get into an excellent college, and if it's good, well, they should be happy. And if they're not, well, whatever. At the end of the day, you're your own person and you will know what's best for you. And you will succeed in life. So work hard, but not too hard. It's fine to be stressed, but again not too much. And peer pressure can be motivational, but only to an extent. Draw the line there.
Oh, and don't overwork yourself. The last thing you want to do is burn yourself out. Try to keep a balance between school work and life. Have fun. Live a little. And work hard at school, but don't overdo it either.
I'm sure you already know this, but you are your own person. It doesn't matter what others (even your parents) have done in their lifetime. They lived in a different generation, and their success will not prevent yours.
All this being said- I believe that the amount of classes and activities you currently partake in are more than enough. I myself constantly compare myself to classmates who seem to be "more involved" than I am. But in truth, the amount of dedication and the impact you make far outweighs the number of classes you take. Hope this helps :)
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