With a year of college down, I think it’s time for me to soothe the nerves of every high school junior or senior. Your application is going to be fine. As an ex-ambitious high schooler I promise it’s easier than you’d expect to get into school.
For those possible eyerolls and dismissive “but I’m trying to go to Stanford!” okay. Good for you and I congratulate the dedication- I have never been a “college name” advocator. I firmly believe the two things that are most important when picking a school is “Does this school have the needs for my major?” and “Is the environment one that benefits me?” As phenomenal as it may be to walk around with Penn State shining on the diploma; if it requires bending backwards and being miserable I doubt it’s worth it.
So, if it helps you decide if I’m a worthy advice giver for your potential educational choices, lemme lay out my “application stats”. Better known as the things every high schooler obsessed with education must know at the drop of hat.
Without too many details; I got into every school I applied to with a range of acceptance rates between 45-80%. Each of these schools I applied into a very specific field track to be in a direct doctorate program. Out of these schools I got into every direct-entry program besides one where I was general admission only.
- GPA: 3.96 (Cum Laude status- not sure if it was above 4.0 when I graduated and don’t care enough to check)
- SAT: 1170 (My target was 1200, I missed the mark yet still got into college I promise you will too)
- APS: AP Lang (5), APUSH (4), AP Comparative Gov (3), AP Gov (3)
- APS where I DIDN’T take the AP Exam: AP Lit, AP Stats, AP Psych
- Honors classes: Honors English, Honors French
- Extra-Curriculars: Speech Team, Lacrosse, Red-Cross Club, National Honors French Society, Field of Choice Observation.
- “Successes”: Scholarship award, speech team. State qualifier, speech team. 50+ hours of observation of field of choice.
With all of that stated, do what I know you all love to do best, compare my achievements and scores to your own.
My point by allowing you all to sit and soak in my high school endeavors is too hopefully push a bit of relief into you. I got into semi-competitive schools WITH scholarships. Getting into college is much easier than what I think every high schooler expects.
If, like me, you’re paranoid of test scores, such as the SAT weighing down your application and might currently be loosing your mind of the prospect of not getting accepted anywhere. Here’s the real secret: Write a damn good essay.
My essay, was relatively simple. A transition from middle school to high school. In general, that’s a boring topic that you’ll often see youtube channels chide and say is a poor topic.
Here’s the real trick: Make that boring thing interesting. My entire college essay was an overarching metaphor. I made my dull transition of small school to a big one fascinating with my words, not my events. The entire essay was about blankets. I began with an in-depth description of a childhood blanket. One covered in holes and stains. A possibly funky smell, yet, cared for more than one could expect. I took it from there to the need of maturity. You can’t sleep with a ratty blanket forever. You gotta get a real duvet. And so, I described high school like that. I explained yarn being threaded, warmth from underneath that sometimes was comforting, yet also sometimes suffocating.
Learn. To. Write.
While I may not be as eloquently spoken on these posts, if the challenge arises, I will meet it. And you can too. One of my biggest learning curves when writing this essay came from my AP Lit class. We were learning how to focus or think of a random item and learning to transform that into an argumentative essay. For example, when we read Hamlet I wrote my essay about a snow globe. I began by explaining the wind-up of the music is like that of the wind-up to Hamlet’s passion to avenge his father….or something on those lines. Truth be told, I don’t really remember the play all that well nor do I want too.
You don’t need perfect grades, or experience, or writing power to get into college. All I truly believe is that you need passion. Show the schools you’re applying to how the things you’ve done reflect the major you want to study at said school. Sure, don’t set yourself up for failure by applying too Big 10’s and crying when the 2.0 GPA doesn’t suffice for the entry. However, I honestly think that if you a person following your interests, you will be able to do so, no matter the name tacked onto the institution.
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