How can I build my extracurricular and tackle the college admissions process?Answered
Hi! I am From Nigeria and I recently graduated from secondary school. Due to the type of school I attended, I wasn't exposed to study abroad programs early and now that I am looking them up, it seems like I do not stand a chance of getting into a good college abroad because I wasn't able to build my extracurricular from scratch or monitor my grades. In summary, my school didn't help me lay a good foundation as they hardly take these things seriously. I tried taking the SAT in May but my score wasn't that good since I had only less than ample time to prepare and my teachers were not familiar with the test. I wasn't happy with the result. I am in a tight place right now. Not having access to good resources is really standing in my way, but I am determined to fight it. Is there any thing I can do or start with?
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Well, a college application has many factors that you’ll need to tackle, but here’s a breakdown:
GPA: Getting those grades up is your first big step. Colleges are looking for an unweighted GPA from the high 3 range and up, and the better the school, the greater expectations. If you have limited resources or you school system is severely lacking, then don’t worry, just study hard to do the best you can with what you’ve got. The SAT is helpful in making up for that, so if you don’t have access to better classes, the SAT is a way for colleges to get a more fair understanding of your skills without the factors of differing schools.
SAT: Studying here is key! I don’t know about in Nigeria, but in the USA, the national SAT score is about 1000 out of 1600. Most schools want at least around 1300, and again, the better schools have higher standards. So depending on where you are looking to attend, you’ll have to establish the score you are aiming for and work at it. If possible, take a prep course, but if you can’t, there are free resources online to help you study. The College Board has put up practice on their site to allow for studying with actual past tests, and they’ve partnered with Kahn Academy to provide free SAT prep resources as well. Even buying a single SAT prep book with a few practice tests may be helpful if you have limited options, but remember that constant repetition of studying for the SAT and taking lots of practice tests under timed conditions is the most effective way to improve your score. While some colleges are test optional right now, it’s usually better to be able to apply with the SAT, especially with a decent score, so study hard!
ECs: The only thing you can do here is get involved. Whether that means tutoring students, volunteering locally, joining or forming a club, playing on a team, or more, you need to show that you can balance activities outside your education and still perform well in school. Variety in your ECs is also recommended, as it shows that you are talented and well rounded. So do a combination of the possibilities, with some volunteer work, some educational activity that will make you appear smart and capable, some recreational activity, like a leisurely pass time you are talented in or a club you joined, and some athletic or team activity, demonstrating your success working with others and/or as a leader. Try to take on a combination of any of these suggestions, but don’t overwhelm yourself. ECs aren’t everything, but showing you can manage a few impressive activities while getting good grades is important. Just make sure you don’t stretch yourself thin trying to do too much, and just do what you can handle well.
Recommendations: Colleges may require or recommend that you submit letters of recommendation from one or more of your teachers to use as a judgement of your character and ability. You can ask the teachers if your choice for these letters, but they aren’t obligated to write them if they choose not to. If they do provide you with one, do not open or read it. All you can do is hope that you’ve shown yourself to be a good student who stood out positively, and that the letter is personalized and complementary.
Essay: Along with your applications, colleges will ask that you write an essay for them. This essay may be on something difficult you overcame, a strength or talent of yours, etc. The point is that this essay needs to be well written, meaningful, and persuade the admissions people that you should go to their school.
I hope that this helps, and good luck!
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