What can I do this summer to improve my chances at admissions come Fall? Answered
I feel like I'm doing "everything right" when it comes to preparing for college, for what that's worth. Yet I still feel stressed out, additionally because I feel that my honors/awards and my academics are a little lacking. In terms of preparation, I worked on my supplemental essays (although many weren't officially released yet), polished up my common-app essay draft, and prepared an hour or so every day for the SAT.
To give you some more context, I am taking an accelerated math course, landed 2 internships (one is a publishing internship and the other is social science research), enrolled in a summer program at Georgetown, currently preparing for piano/songwriting competitions, and I'm a published poet. Im the editor of my school's literary magazine and the captain of the debate club. I also intend to start a social science club at my school. However, although I am content with my extracurriculars, I feel uncertain about the honors section. Although, I did win a piano competition a while back and got to perform at Carnegie Hall. My academics are OK. I have a 3.8 unweighted GPA and my SAT has not come back yet but I can safely assume it's about 1350 based on previous practice exams.
Additionally, since I am considering applying ED at my top choice, Brown, I am not sure what I can do now to improve my chance at acceptance, since likely they won't see my senior year grades. My GPA and SAT are below the range for accepted students at my other top choices like Wesleyan, Tufts, and Cornell. Any advice on how I personally can improve?
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First of all, your extracurriculars look impressive so that is already a great start as they will help you stand out among the applicant pool.
For your honors section, don't worry too much about filling it up but here are some ideas:
- AP awards
- Certifications (ex. CPR/AED)
- Online Course Certificates (ex. Coursera, edX, etc.)
For more ideas about the honors section, you can visit this article I found: https://blog.prepscholar.com/academic-honors-examples-college-application
For your grades, just do your best and enroll in challenging classes. You can't change your past grades so the best you can do at this point is to show colleges that you challenge yourself with your coursework. Try taking a good amount of AP and/or IB classes but if those are not available or you don't find the ones offered particularly interesting, consider dual enrollment at a local community college or university. Don't overburden yourself, however, because you will have extracurriculars and college application to worry about.
For standardized testing, try both the SAT and the ACT (practice exams) before deciding which one you want to do. It seems as though you have already chosen the SAT and are unsatisfied with your score. Try your best to improve your score but if you can't reach the desired range, don't sweat it. You can always apply test-optional if needed. What I wouldn't want you to do is to spend a lot of time studying just to receive a score that you won't submit.
At this point in your high school career, there isn't too much you can do to improve your chances. So my best advice would be to worry less and less about your accomplishments and your admissions profile and instead worry more and more about painting the best picture about yourself to colleges. You can be the best candidate or the worst candidate but the admissions officer only gets to see the way you portray yourself. So think about this question: When the admissions officer is done looking at my profile, what should they know about me?
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