In Focus

Dear Freshmen: Advice from a Senior Who Has Been There

MIKAELA TOPPER

IN FOCUS EDITOR

To All Current Freshmen — Even this early on, college can dominate your thoughts. That’s understandable: it determines your job prospects, your connections, your life for four years. As a result, it makes sense to think about the “college process” — at least a little bit — this early on. That’s why I am writing to you.

Maintain high grades; keeping them up becomes a lot more important when you look at your final transcript senior year. Don’t slack off freshman and sophomore year. You’ll regret it.

Take AP classes and join clubs in the subjects you’re interested in. Use this time to explore what you’re passionate about and challenge yourself (appropriately). These outlets give depth to your application and show a side of you beyond your schoolwork. Next year will be important. It’s the first time that you will hear about colleges, do research, and attend college fairs. You’ll still have two more years to narrow down a list, but it is a good idea to get a head start on becoming familiar with different schools.

Next year will be important. It’s the first time that you will hear about colleges, do research, and attend college fairs. You’ll still have two more years to narrow down a list, but it is a good idea to get a head start on becoming familiar with different schools.

College starts to feel within reach by junior year. This is the most stressful year of high school for most people — the workload and outside pressure really picks up. On top of that, you will take your dreaded standardized test of choice. It may feel like that one test will define your whole future, but remember that your score is just a small part of your application. You can retake the test as many times as you want and superscore it. Also, make sure your calculator has new batteries.

You should also use this time to start creating a short list of college choices. There’s a lot to think about; size, location, cost, opportunities, and types of majors should all factor into your decisions. By your senior year, it will finally be time to apply. Most people apply to eight to ten colleges, but the number varies. Your final list should have a variety of “likely,” “match,” and “reach” schools, which your college counselor will help you with.

When you have selected your favorite schools, the last step is deciding whether you want to apply somewhere early. There are two different types of early application — early decision and early action. Early decision means that the application is binding (requiring you to attend if you are accepted). Early action, on the other hand, just reports the decision early. If your sights are set on one school, apply early decision. Otherwise, don’t risk it. Students view the college process as the most stressful part of high school. However, if you go into it with a positive mindset, then it will definitely hurt less. Rejection is inevitable, but always remember that your college doesn’t define you, and you will be happy anywhere you go. And again, all of this is in the future — so try to relax. You’re going to do great things. We’re all rooting for you. — A Senior

 

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