I am almost top of my class. I almost got straight my freshman year. I am going to be a Sophomore tomorrow. I am on the school newspaper, I do swim team during the summer, and I am on the volleyball team.
Hermione, yes you have a good chance at getting accepted into 3 types of colleges:
1-Any of the 8 Ivy Leagues
2-Any of the Elite Universities like Rice, UChicago, Northwestern, JHU, Stanford
3-Any of the Top Liberal Arts Colleges like Pomona, CMC, Wellesley, Amherst, Williams, and Swarthmore.
You have to do some important things over the next 2-2.5 years and write them down and keep track of your progress.
Course Work - Choosing high school courses
Take no less than the following courses:
The study of English for four years: close and extensive reading of the classics of the world’s literature
Four years of a single foreign language
The study of history for at least two years, and preferably three years: American history, European history, and one additional advanced history course
The study of mathematics for four years
The study of science for four years: physics, chemistry, and biology, and preferably one of these at an advanced level
Frequent practice in the writing of expository prose
Aim to get As and your final unweight GPA should be no less than 3.9 which means that you have room to get a B or two.
Course Rigor- Within these courses, take between 7-11 AP classes. Since you are in the newspaper, I suggest you take AP English Lang and AP English Lit 11th/12th grade. I would try to take 2 Science APs like AP Bio, Chem, Physics, or Env.Science. I would like at least 1 math AP like AP Calc AB. And I would take at least 2 histories APs like AP US History, AP Govt, or AP European History. When you take APs, aim to get As in them also aim to get top AP scores on the exams like 4s and 5s.
1. Stick with the newspaper and try to be the editor in chief by 11th or 12th grade. If you can't be the Editor, then try to be the Editor of another publication like a Journal of short stories and poems ( creative writing ) or create your own special edition "ZINES" online that feature a collection of stories, poems, artwork, etc. The editor is a key leadership position.
2. Stick with volleyball and swimming. Do both if you can but try to be the Team Captain in at least of them as a Varsity sport. If you can't excel at either of them, switch to something that you might enjoy and be good at. Suggestions would be Water Polo, Lacrosse, Soccer. Again Team Captain is a key leadership position.
3. Aim for a 3rd key leadership position. This can either be an elected position at your schools like Class President or something like a President of a Club. The more impressive clubs are ModelUN, Debate Team, Constitutional Law Mock Trial, or DECA. If you are a STEM kid, then the President of the Math, Computer, or Science clubs are important.
4. Aim to have some key positions in your town or community. This can either be fulfilled by being a student member of your City Council serving on a board for a City department. Some ideas are being a board member at your town Library, or Parks & Recs Dept, or School Board. The key thing here is to show some leadership.
5. Aim to have some volunteering work done for different causes you are personally passionate about. This can be done locally, regionally, or nationally. You can also join some activism group or political action party or just help out at the food bank. The quality of the time you serve is more important than the number of hours you serve. If you can raise money for a cause and be a catalyst for change, that is more important than waiting for someone to tell you to do a task.
6. Develop a spike which is a skill set or experience or talent that you are excellent at. It could be anything from public speaking or music or art or running your own YouTube channel with 10,000 followers. Top colleges want to have interesting people on their campuses so be interesting and unique.
Test Scores - You will need to set a 100 to 200 hours aside to have mastery of either the ACT or SAT. You won't know which one will work better for your so take both practice tests and go with the one you score higher one without studying. Once you decide on either the ACT or SAT, there are literally hundreds of posts here just for helping students get better scores. The kind of score that you will need is a 34/35 ACT composite score and a 1500/1550 SAT score.
Recommendations - It's important to cultivate close professional relationships with some of your teachers who are your biggest fans and mentors. These individuals will write the best recommendations for you and advocate for your admittance to a top college.
Essays - In 2 years you will be tasked with writing college essays. While they are not long in length (650 words) plus some shorter supplemental essays (250-350), they will be taken extremely seriously. So that is why it's important to take the hardest and most challenging English classes. You will need to be on your A-game when you write these.
I think I have covered the basics. During next summer, plan a family trip to visit some of these colleges if you can. It's very important that you go visit at least a few of them so you understand what they really are like in person.
Lastly, only you can tell if this set of tasks is too daunting and difficult. Therefore, listen to your body, and your mind and take a regular inventory of how well you are doing in terms of wellness and mental health. Focusing on trying to get into to top college is very taxing on the human body. To be your best you need to take impeccable care of yourself. That means getting at least 6-7 hours of sleep, eating healthy things that give you nutrition and energy, having a process of dealing with your stress when you feel overwhelmed (either talking to your siblings, parents, relatives, friends, or a therapist). Too many high school students think they must attend an Ivy League school and while that is a nice goal, it shouldn't be the main goal. The main goal of your high school experience should be to learn as much as possible and have different experiences so that you are on your way to being the best version of yourself.
For some, the best version of themselves could very well be joining the ROTC and the Military for others it might be to become a recruited athlete at a D1 school, and yet for others it could be going to community college and then eventually onto a 4-year college. If you are smart, you will thrive whether you are at an Ivy, an Elite University, or a Liberal Arts College. Also, the next two tiers down of colleges are excellent as well. I would honestly say if you are intelligent, you will get an excellent education at the Top 100 schools and they include all kinds of colleges, big and small and some with a STEM focus.
Good luck and keep up the great work.
I think you have a great chance.
I don't know how much it will affect your chances, but I would suggest starting now to practice for the ACT/SAT to ensure that you get that extra boost to help you get in to an Ivy League school.
Yes, definitely. If you continue to excel, I don't see why you wouldn't have a chance to be accepted. I don't think the location of the student would play much, if any importance in the application.
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