10 months ago
Admissions Advice

How can I boost my college application and make use of gap year effectively?

Hi, I’m an international student from the Philippines and currently in 12th grade. When I was in 11th grade, right at the start of the school year, I faced personal troubles that led to deep depression, affecting my grades. Despite these challenges, I managed to achieve a 91.0 average by the end of the school year. I plan to take a gap year after 12th grade to focus on recovering my well-being and enhancing my college application. I hope to achieve this by joining more clubs or applying for internships, if possible. With limited time left in high school, I'm determined to ease myself back on track. I would greatly appreciate advice on improving my college resume, including suggestions for classes, clubs, and volunteering opportunities. Your guidance would be invaluable. Additionally, I would be grateful for any tips on spending my gap year effectively.

While I'm familiar with most of the steps I need to take, such as preparing for the SAT and ACT, I believe that receiving extra feedback could be beneficial. Thank you for your assistance.

Here's a snapshot of my current situation:

Grade: 12th

GPA: 91.0/100 (I'm unsure of the equivalent in US institutions)

My school doesn't offer AP/IB classes.

SAT: Not taken yet

ACT: Not taken yet

Desired Universities: NYU, Pomona College

Applying ED with full financial aid

I would really appreciate your insights!

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2 answers

10 months ago[edited]

First of all, I'm impressed with your maturity to recognize that in order to successfully move forward with your college plans you need to be of sound mind and body. More than 75% of high school students around the world suffered either mentally, physically, or both during the 3 year COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, many students have not addressed their own self-care or have taken the time to fully recover.

While admission rates have dropped at the most competitive schools, it's not because students are smarter but rather because access to applying to many schools at once is very efficient through the Common or Coalition app. So there are many more applicants per school with a fixed amount of spaces available. This becomes a huge challenge for International Students, especially those who require financial aid since many of them are at a disadvantage because of a lack of curriculum (no APs or IBs), technology (slow WIFI or no WIFI or laptops), lack of leadership opportunities and ECs through your school, and economic (pressures to work to help the family and lack of quality food).

All top colleges like the ones you mentioned want to make sure you will succeed academically if you are accepted into their institution. Therefore it's paramount that you consider the 2 things you need more than ECs and community service which are top SAT or ACT test scores and some further evidence of intellectual vitality through your efforts to keep learning during your GAP year. They do not want to see you take the foot off the gas pedal because you are taking a GAP year to do ECs but want to see you effectively manage your time to improve your application narrative so that you are a more compelling and competitive applicant in this very difficult pool of other students applying from your country.

Your 3rd priority is to focus on a spike activity that is unique and that you are very good at. This activity should have a maximum social impact which shows tangible evidence that it made a difference. This is not the same thing as volunteering 500 hours but rather something you own and control that you enjoy doing and that has elevated you to some notoriety. Maybe this is rock climbing/bouldering and you become an accomplished competitor. Maybe you start a non-profit and make things for sale to help certain people who need help like those suffering from mental illness. The key thing is not to do what is the status quo that everyone else is doing.

When NYU admissions get 30000 international applications, you don't want your application to be buried in the huge piles but for the reader to say, this is someone special that deserves our attention.

Good luck with your mental health and remember that where you go to college is less important than your health and happiness. Be open-minded to other colleges as well because there are over 4000 in America and hundreds of them are just as good at NYU and Pomona.

10 months ago

To enhance your application, you should join clubs or organizations if there are any available in your area. You can also start doing volunteer work, internships and other research opportunities related to computer science. During your gap year, you can start some personal projects. I am also an international student who will be taking a gap year and I plan on immigrating to the US after I graduate high school because I do not have many opportunities in my country. Good luck!

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
+ add school
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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