I'm an 8th grader and I have been planning on working towards getting into Harvard. I am a straight-A student and do Drama Club and Band so I have some extracurriculars. What kind of programs and AP classes should I take in high school to maximize my chances of getting in?
Hey there @rdiehl914!
I'm a freshman in high school who was in the exact same situation as you are last year. Worrying about college in your freshman year of high school isn't going to get you too far. While having goals is definitely good, you don't need to be worried about college yet. That being said, if you want to get into a top school like Harvard, you should be working hard from day one. Here are a few things I've learned this year:
Classes and Grades:
- If you feel ready for it, take all honors classes. My school doesn't offer APs until sophomore year, but I take all honors. Only take honors classes in subjects that you're strong in/interested in.
- Instead of focusing on getting a perfect score on every assesment, essay, or project, focus on getting a grade that will keep your GPA where you want it. A 95 and a 100 are the same GPA-wise, so don't stress it if you don't get those five extra points.
- These are SO important for getting into a good school. I currently do ~10 ECs that are all pretty different.
- Try to join a few clubs at school, volunteer in your community, or get a summer job. Running for class president or being a club leader are good leadership roles. Sports or theatre are also pretty good, as well as community service.
- Submit to art or writing competitions. Go to science fairs or history contests.
- I had to take the PSAT 8/9 in school, which is just a practice for the eleventh grade PSAT and the SAT. It's good to take it to familiarize yourself with the SAT format. Other than that, there aren't too many standardized tests for ninth graders, at least not at the private school I go to.
- You should also build good relationships with your college counselors and teachers, who may be able to write letters of recommendation in the future.
In short, don't stress out too much, try new things, do your best, and enjoy your first year of high school.
Hi! I am a junior in high school, and my biggest piece of advice is to get involved! Yes, taking rigorous classes+maintaining a good GPA is 100% important, but extracurriculars are just as important. Schools, especially Harvard, like to see well-rounded applicants who bring something unique to the table. In high school try creating a club, running for a class officer position, maximizing community service hours, applying to NHS if your school has it, finding an internship that has to do with your intended major(once you know what that is), or getting a job!
On a different note, however, do not put all your eggs in one basket. Don't shape your whole educational experience with the sole purpose of getting into Harvard. Do these things because they mean something to you/you enjoy them. In addition, do your research to see if you are 100% sure about Harvard because from my experience the colleges I wanted to go to in 8/9th grade are definitely not the same as the ones I will be applying to. Look into other colleges because there are SO SO many of them available.
I wish you the best of luck and hope this helped!
Hi, I'm also in 8th grade and I just wanted to note that while Harvard definitely has a good name for itself, there are a lot of cons. Make sure to look into reasons why you shouldn´'t go as well as reasons why you should. It also really depends on what major you pick. This really goes for any college but make sure you take classes and extracurriculars that relate to the major you're picking because it shows them you have a passion for it and can lead to college credit. Also take note of your mental and physical health. Going into a prestigious schools with a prestigious major can take a toll on your health so it's really something you should take into account. That being said it always really depends so make sure you do your research and have backups. I obviously don't know much about the college since I've never been, so this all just goes for any college really. But make sure to make connections, talk to past alumni and Harvard recruits. Harvard and many prestigious schools will turn down perfectly good students all the time so make sure to work hard but don't get your hopes up too high.
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