How to Handle the Stress of College Applications


As much as it is daunting to begin college applications, it is exciting. College is your next big step in life. The time you spend in college results in lifelong friends, treasured memories, and experiences that will last a life time.

          As it is nearing college application deadlines for the 2017 fall semester, most seniors (like myself) are fearing these deadlines. Although college applications can be overwhelming  there are many ways for you to ease the stress for yourself.


Start Early

I sound like a broken record saying this, don't I? I know you have heard it over and over again but I am only repeating this ear bleeding phrase because it is wise, very wise. The earlier you start all of the applications the less daunting the deadlines will become.

For most of us the essays are the most intimidating, but the best advice I will give to you is to just write. Don't think about it, just write. Don’t vacillate over topics, word choice etc. just start writing about the first idea/topic that comes to mind that best fits the prompt you are asked to answer. Once you have finished writing, simply put it away and don't look at your essay for at least a day.

Allowing yourself to freely write will not only help put your mind at ease that you have at least started or attempted your essays, but also break the ice and the potential writers block that you may have had.

Also, putting your essay away for at least a day will give yourself a fresh brain to revise the essay and formulate clear thoughts about your writing. At this time you can ask yourself if the topic you wrote about best answered the prompt, if the structure contributed well to the message you are trying to convey, or does the word choice match the style you want to portray.

Starting the applications early and completing them little by little (remember baby steps) will help the process along and the deadlines, like I said, wont seem as daunting. Dedicating time each day or every other day for about 30 minutes to an hour on college applications will also move the process along nicely.


Another key detail to relieving the stress of college applications is to plan. Get out your planner or print a monthly calendar off the internet and write in all of your deadlines. ALL OF THEM. Plan out  deadlines for yourself to complete rough and final drafts of your essays, teacher visits to revise your essays, and plan the days where you need to remind your teachers about the recommendation letter you asked them to write for you. Planning everything out AND sticking to it will help relieve your stress tremendously.



Lastly and maybe most importantly you need to realize a few things.The college application process is rigorous, time consuming, and stressful to say the least.  While it may be all of the above, it is not the end all be all.

With that being said, if you feel insecure about certain aspects of your application know that someone else is also just as insecure about certain parts of their application. Even the senior with what you may see as a perfect resume has insecurities too. You are not alone in this process. I am a senior this year, just like several other thousands of students and I am insecure about certain pieces of my application, but I do believe that everything happens for a reason.

As you begin your college applications show yourself off, brag about everything you have accomplished and show the college admissions who you are and why you deserve to attend their university. Start early ( I’m definitely sounding like a broken record), have parents and teachers revise your essays so you are able to put your best foot forward.

Maybe, at the end of the day you don’t end up at Yale even with the countless hours spent at the Humane Society or sleepless nights studying throughout your high school career, but know that wherever you end up it will be the perfect place for you.

As my parents have always said, let the chips fall where they may.

I wish you all (almost) stress-free applications!




Early Graduation: Things to Consider Before Making a Decision


"High school sucks." Some variation of this phrase has been uttered at one point by most high school students. The homework, the tests, the drama, and having to wake up before the sunrises all culminate to form a generally stressful environment for all those who enter. But if you had the chance to shorten this stressful time from 4 years to 3, would you?

There are a growing number of students who, for one reason or another, are deciding to skip their senior year and head straight for college. Juniors who have enough credits and have taken the courses required to graduate have the option to graduate early, usually with the condition that they provide a list of the colleges they are applying/have applied to or have already been accepted to a school. This idea may peak the interest of some, but is missing your senior year really worth it? Here are some things to consider:

The High School Experience

Whether it’s its ability to relate or just some odd cultural fascination with teenagers, cheesy movies set to the backdrop of high school have become a genre in their own right. These movies showcase all the events seniors participate in a light that could convince someone who life the rest of life is pretty lackluster in comparison to those wonderful memories of prom and football games. Despite the exaggeration of these clichéd stories, they do pose an interesting question to those looking to graduate early; do you want to miss out on a final year of high school memories? The freedoms senior year provides makes many former students look back on it as their favorite year of high school, as it was an opportunity to let go and have fun before going off to college. Even if for those who aren't as keen on the whole "high school experience" as others, it’s still worth considering the benefits (or lack thereof) of having an extra year before entering the chaos of work that is college.



For many, the hardest part about going to college, especially out-of-state, is leaving their friends. Sure, it's easy to stay connected through social media, but by graduating early, you are, some ways, leaving your friends in high school for college. Even if you are going to a community college, your experiences will be largely different from those of your high schooler friends, so it may be more difficult to connect with them than when you saw each other every day and could commiserate over the English homework. This is, however, all dependent on the individual; graduating early could also have a positive effect on your friendships. Spending too much time together can oftentimes strain a relationship, so time apart could be just you need; every person is different. Maybe all your friends are seniors or you just never really got along with anyone while in high school; college is the perfect place to find people you actually connect with.



Anyone who has searched for scholarships, online or otherwise, will tell you it is quite the process. The process becomes even more complicated for those graduating early. While you are graduating the same year as the seniors in your school, you technically aren't a senior, so the wording of scholarships becomes more important than ever. If the scholarship says "open to those graduating in ___ year" or "for student who are going into their freshmen year of college"  then you're in the clear, but when it says "open to all seniors in high school," the waters become murky.  Luckily, this technicality isn't fatal to one's chances of getting scholarships; it is more of a nuisance that can usually be resolved with an email to the provider of the scholarship. In addition, there are also some scholarships specifically for early graduates, though they tend to be specific to individual states.


High school is a time of great exploration, not only of the world but of the self. It's a time of refining tastes, changing value and new experiences that leave you, more often than not, much different from who you once were. Think about yourself in your freshmen year of high school; how much did you change in the time span of one or two years? If one or two years can you change you so dramatically, what can another year do? An extra year of high school could give you some well needed time to prepare. There are some students, however, who are much more mature than those the same age as them who have outgrown the high school curriculum, and those tend to be the students that should graduate early. In the end, however, the decision of whether or not to graduate early is all up the individual. Everyone is different and there is no one formula that can decide who should and who should not skip senior year. If you are considering early graduation, the best advice I can give you is to talk to your guidance counselor and your parents to find out what path is right for you.



Consider the Options: Exploring the Different Types of Colleges


With thousands of colleges and universities in the United States alone, it’s no surprise that there are various kinds of schools that you can attend to get your higher education. It may seem overwhelming, but once you decide what type of atmosphere you’d like to be a part of you’ll find that it will be easier for you to narrow down your college list. Here is a comprehensive list of colleges, in which each type will be explained and weighed for pros and cons, to help you in your search.


In-State vs. Out-of-State Colleges

The first dilemma that most students come across when starting their college search is whether they would feel happier staying in their home state or not. This varies from person to person, for some people have strong connections to their state and would rather not leave it, but others may yearn to go to college in another state for new experiences and opportunities. Personal preferences aside, though, a big factor in choosing whether to go in-state or out-of-state is how tuition rates line up with your current financial situation.

By now, you probably know that going out-of-state for your higher education can be a lot more expensive than staying in state. In fact, on average, it costs $8,990 more for students to attend a college or university in a state where they are not a resident. This should not deter you from applying to the colleges of your choice, though, for you still have the chance to get scholarships and be a part of tuition exchange programs for aid.

If you want to be a more independent student, you should definitely look into applying to out-of-state universities, even if you are not necessarily keen on leaving your home state. Limiting your search to your state is not beneficial to you, and you should instead look broadly for you college choices. You’ll never know what you’ll find if you never try!


Private vs. Public Colleges

Once you have figured out whether you want to stay in your home state or not, you now have to figure out whether you want to attend a public or private university.

Private colleges tend to be a lot smaller than public colleges, with undergraduate usually staying in the mere thousands. This can be beneficial because you can have easier access to professors with smaller class sizes. At public schools, you may get lost in the crowd in class and it may not feel as personal as you feel your educational experience should be. If you love being in a busy atmosphere with a lot of people together, however, going to a public college may sound appealing to you.

Another difference between these schools is that at public schools, you will usually find a larger range of majors that you will at private schools. This is because a lot of private schools have certain academic focuses, like engineering or medicine with better resources and greater opportunities for research, while public colleges don’t necessarily have focuses. If you want to go to a college that is somewhat oriented to your field of study, looking into private schools is a good idea.

Of course, we cannot discuss public and private schools without talking about the cost. As public schools are funded by state governments and citizens’ taxes, it is significantly cheaper for you to go to one of them rather than private schools. Private colleges rely on fees, tuition, and rare donations in order to keep running, and that drives the price of tuition way up; in fact, tuition doesn’t change for people in that state or out-of-state. This is beneficial in a way, for private schools can be region-blind when it comes to accepting students because all who enroll will pay the same amount of tuition, unlike in public schools that accept students that are mostly from the state that they are in.


Historically Black Colleges and Universities

An HCBU, as defined by the U.S. Department of Education, is “any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary [of Education] to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation.” Even though these colleges are historically black, however, they offer all students, regardless of race, chances to further their talents in their higher education.

At these schools, opportunities may be specifically tailored to African-American history and experiences, which adds to the close-knit community that already exists. This atmosphere is said to be safe and nurturing by graduates, and if you are looking for somewhat familial ties in your college experience, an HCBU may be right for you.


Religiously Affiliated Colleges

People may shy away from colleges that coincide with a religion, especially if they don’t practice  the same religion or any religion at all. You don’t necessarily have to be of the same religion to attend one of these schools and definitely should not let that stop you if you really like an academic program in a school, but you should be wary of what kind of community the school has. For example, religion may intersect with student life when it comes to dress code, curfew, single-sex dorms, and more. Make sure to do your research on a specific school if you are interested, and get a tour if possible. This will allow you to make sure that the atmosphere is right for you.

If you do practice the same religion as a school you are interested in, though, this can be extremely beneficial to you. You can get involved in clubs to further your spiritual growth and attend your specific church with fellow students. This allows you to be in an accepting and familiar community of people who understand you and already have a deep connection with you through religion.

Hopefully, through this article you have gained valuable insight into what type of college you’d like to attend after you finish high school. Now that you have this knowledge, go and research these schools and narrow down your list of possibilities!



Why Choosing a College is Like a Season of the Bachelorette


Choosing a college is like a season of The Bachelorette. Applying to college might seem as stressful as choosing a fiancé, but that’s okay.


Weeks 1-2

During your junior year of high school, you will probably begin compiling a list of potential colleges. Throughout the remainder of your high school career, you will spend countless hours deciding which colleges to apply to, actually applying to them, and finally choosing a school. It sounds rough.

Similarly, JoJo Fletcher underwent a stressful process throughout the ten weeks which made up this past season of The Bachelorette. At the start, she was faced with twenty-six men seeking her heart. Each participant on the show offered a unique set of characteristics to his potential future fiancé, just as colleges do to prospective students. Of course there are colleges that offer none of what we are looking for... I think we all remember Chad from this season. While it may be easy to rule these schools out quickly, there will be multiple colleges with various pros. Maybe one has the name everyone knows and envies, like former NFL quarterback Jordan Rodgers. Another displays incredible guidance and support, like Robby Hayes. How can she choose?


Weeks 3-5

As you begin to acquire acceptance and rejection letters from schools and narrow your choices down, the decision-making grows increasingly more challenging. Take it from JoJo. She shed tears nearly every episode, especially as the weeks went by. She continued to learn more about each man and had even more trouble letting one go. Like JoJo you are looking for a commitment, which can seem daunting. As JoJo send men home week after week, she found herself crying out that she didn’t even know what she was doing. She wondered whether the decisions she made rejecting men would be the best for her future.

Although your decision is far from easy, you will reach a moment of clarity in which you will feel comfortable with the school you have chosen. Trust me, I’ve been there too. Personally, I had a lot of trouble choosing between the University of Southern California and the University of San Diego. Being from New York, I knew that I was choosing a school far from home, in fact on the other side of the country. Just as JoJo visited the homes of her top four men as the season began to wrap up, I made sure to visit my top colleges before coming to a decision, which I cannot recommend enough. The visits helped me immensely, and I left California during the spring break of my senior year, where I visited five schools, with a clear idea of my two favorites- USD and USC.


Weeks 6-7

If you still feel torn after visiting the schools to which you were admitted, as I did, don’t freak out. My first tip is to make a list of the pros and cons of each of your schools. Compare the various factors by their importance, such as the cost of tuition, the majors and minors offered, location, and opportunities for internships and jobs.

Although this process can help you to visualize the school which is most realistic for you to attend, I believe that following your gut will ultimately lead you to the best college for you. When JoJo was left with two men during the final episode of this past season, she talked rationally with her family about her two options, verbally listing their pros and cons. Both were great, but her parents and siblings all seemed to favor Robby. Her brother compared Jordan to a “New Year’s date” and claimed that Robby seemed to be more of a long-term fit for JoJo. However, America’s favorite bachelorette jumped to Jordan’s defense. Just as JoJo defended Jordan, I found myself defending USC whenever a family member or peer would persuade me to commit to USD.


Weeks 8-9

When it comes down to it, you can ask your family and friends for their advice as much as you want, but you won’t end up choosing a school because someone else told you to do so. You are the one spending the four years at that school, not your loved ones. Though JoJo’s family encouraged her to pick Robby, they ultimately expressed their interest in her happiness. My family did the same when I was choosing a school, and I’m sure yours will too.

Instead of asking where you should go, ask your family and friends where they believe you truly want to go. You will come to realize that your heart is set on a college. Clearly, JoJo felt that Jordan was right for her early on in the show, as she gave him her First Impression Rose. She revealed after the season ended that she kept asking herself which man she could not imagine leaving, and the answer was Jordan. Think about which school comes to your mind first. Metaphorically, I gave my First Impression Rose to USC. My family could tell for a while that I genuinely wanted to end up there, since I always talked about it first and most often. I did receive more scholarship money at USD and was offered spring admission to USC, meaning that I would have to begin classes there in the spring semester, rather than during the fall. However, I followed my gut and felt absolutely relieved when I committed to the University of Southern California and made plans to study abroad my first semester.


Week 10

My final piece of advice to you is to not stress too much. Wherever you end up is where you are meant to be. I know that was corny, but it’s true. Please don’t let yourself cry as much as JoJo did this season (if that’s even possible). As May 1 approaches, deliver that final rose, also known as your deposit, to the school you cannot imagine denying. At the end of the day, choosing a college is a process, and you should trust it! After all, JoJo trusted the process this season, and she and Jordan are set to live happily ever after. *Roll Credits*


If you are still stuck, the following links will direct you to more help on choosing between two colleges:,-how-do-you-choose-between-colleges/168/1



The Advantages of Starting Your Common Application Early


It’s August, which means the return of two things: school, and the opening of the Common Application.

Many colleges across the country use the Common Application as a way to make the application process as smooth and concise as possible for students. While this is a big help, there is another thing that you can do in order to make the process even easier for yourself- starting your application early, and giving yourself the greatest amount of time to work on it.


The Race Against the Clock

It is no secret that it is time consuming to fill out college applications. The process can become even more stressful when paired with school work, and can put strains on your friendships and grades, in which the latter are extremely important during your senior year of high school.

The only way that you can combat the inevitable pressure during this time of year is to begin your application as soon as you possibly can before things start to get busy at school. The procrastination of this important process will only lead to unneeded anxiety, and you will miss out on opportunities that will help better your applications.

Here are a few advantages of starting your applications early and tips on how to make them the best that they can be.

Talking to Your Counselor

One of the best things about starting the application process is that you are never alone, even if you start ahead of everyone else. Your counselor will be there for you every step of the way, and can advise you and answer any questions you have.

If you aren’t in school yet, don’t be afraid to send your counselor an email, and if you have already started school, make it a point to set up an appointment with them in the near future. They will be happy to assist you in any way they can, whether it be for helping you choose your shortlist of colleges and universities, helping you send out the transcripts and test scores necessary for your applications, or assisting you in choosing which activities would best showcase your positive qualities on your Activities List. Being ahead of the game can only help you as counselors will not be completely swamped with appointments yet; due to this, they can give you the best possible advice about making decisions concerning your future.

Getting Teacher Recommendations

For some students, approaching teachers for recommendations is terrifying and anxiety-inducing, while others already know which teachers they want to write theirs and can easily inquire about them. No matter which side of the spectrum you’re on, you need to make sure that you ask your teachers to write your recommendations as soon as possible.

Deciding which teachers will write your recommendations can be difficult, so giving yourself a lot of time to figure out which ones would be the best for you is a huge plus. When you work the list out early, you can ask them before others start crowding them with requests. By doing this, you save both yourself and your teachers a lot of stress, and give them a lot of time to write the best recommendation they can without the strain of a deadline hovering above their heads.


Writing Your Essays

Writing the essays for your applications is possibly the most stressful part of the application process due to tricky, open-ended prompts and word counts that limit your creativity. This part only gets worse if you attempt to write these essays while you are in school, for homework and extra-curriculars can get in the way- you don’t want to have to focus on your college essay while writing a research paper for your English class at the same time.

If you are not in school, you are currently in the best-case scenario. Even though you are probably trying to embrace your last days of summer vacation, take out some time to at least look at all of the prompts for the colleges you are applying to and brainstorm what you will write; it would be even better if you write rough drafts for all of them. If you are already in school, then you will have to manage your time wisely. When you have breaks, take the time to jot down ideas for your essays and write blurbs that will fit into them. After school and on the weekends, put your mind to writing drafts based on your ideas, and don’t allow yourself to become distracted by others so that you can write as best as you can.

A big advantage to starting your essays early is that you give people a lot of time to read and edit them. Not only can you ask friends and family to assist you in making sure your essays are absolutely perfect, but your teachers can also give you more in-depth advice so that you can express yourself clearly through your writing. Getting help editing is a valuable opportunity that you cannot pass up, so put a pencil to paper and start!

Hopefully, throughout this article, you have realized that starting your Common Application early can only be advantageous for you and the people who are willing to assist you in making sure you impress the colleges you are applying to. Avoid all possible stress and begin now—you’ll be thankful when application deadlines come rolling around!



AP Human Geography: A Guide to Success in the Course and the Exam


A Guide to Getting a 5 on the AP Test

AP Human Geography (or APHuG, as students often call it) is a useful introductory AP course that provides a challenge for many high school students. While it can be a very rewarding course, it also requires a lot of hard work, which is daunting to some students. To fix this, I have compiled a list of helpful tips that should make that elusive 5 much more attainable.

Actually Read the Textbook

            Your textbooks will be one of your most accessible and useful resources while taking this course. It provides most of what will be covered on the AP Test and will be much easier to access and find than many other outside resources will be. It is also probably what your in-class tests will be based off, so actually reading the textbook will be helpful in that sense too.

And what do I mean by “actually” read the textbook? I mean that you should do more than just merely skim over the chapters. Take time to thoroughly read the chapters, make flashcards on terms that are bold in the text, note the different graphics and maps (and trust me, there will be a lot of them), and study and understand them. If you start doing this at the beginning of the course, you will have the ideal preparation coming into the AP Test.


Use a Prep Book

This may sound obvious; however, it is essential to have and actually use a prep book in order to prepare yourself. The best thing to do would be to purchase a prep book at the beginning of the year and use it as you go. What I mean by that is, if you are learning about agriculture, along with reading your textbook’s agriculture chapter, also review the prep book’s agriculture section. Most textbooks do not include every little bit of information that will be on the AP Test. By reviewing the prep book along with the textbook, you will be filling in gaps in your knowledge, that way there will be less to actually review when tests roll out in May.

Some of you might be wondering: what prep book should I use? The one that I personally found to be the most useful, and many of my classmates found to be helpful as well, was the Princeton Review prep book. It was packed with a lot of information, which is why it is crucial to start reviewing early, and also had several practice tests with questions formed very similarly to the ones asked on the actual AP Test. The Barron’s prep book was a much more condensed book that was mainly useful for vocabulary review. Both of these books can be found on Amazon for fairly inexpensive. However, if you are unable to buy them, your local library should have AP prep books available for you or a former student may be willing to donate their old one to you. Do not be too concerned if you are not using the current edition, as long as it’s relatively recent the content is largely the same, with maybe a few formatting changes and some new practice questions.

Using College Board

            The College Board website will become your best friend while taking this course and generally throughout your high school experience. College Board is basically the company that administers all of the AP tests and has information on every AP class that is offered. Look at the page specifically dedicated to AP Human Geography and read over the class description and overview. This will get you acquainted with the course and, as you get closer to the test, remind you of everything that you need to know.

Another extremely useful feature on the College Board website is under the “Exam Practice” tab of the AP Human Geography page (Under this tab, you will find previous FRQs that were on the actual tests and their scoring guidelines. An FRQ is a Free Response Question and it is the second component of the AP Human Geography exam and most other AP exams in general. It basically gives you a question with multiple components that you must respond to in a paragraph format). Look at all of these old FRQs and do them! Not only will it give you practice on the writing style needed to write an FRQ, but it will also help you become familiar with the kinds of questions that will be on the AP Test and the knowledge necessary to answer them. 

Find Additional Online Resources

Whether it is your teacher’sweb pagee, a newspaper article, or another student’s Quizlet, finding reliable and helpful online resources will make studying a lot more diverse and interesting. For example, my classmates and I used our teacher’s class web page as a resource. She would often post related articles and YouTube videos that she did not have time to share in class. The students who actually utilized her webpage found studying for tests and the AP Exam much easier, as they had a diverse wealth of knowledge from multiple different resources.

Here are a few particularly helpful resources, videos, and articles that I found to be useful to get you started.


Do Outside Research on Related Topics

One of the best things that I got out of this class was the knowledge I gained about the outside world. This class is incredibly relevant and applicable to the world as a whole, which makes it very easy to apply current events. For example, the most useful thing I did while in this class was research on the political situation in Iraq. Not only was this interesting to me, but it also applied to the AP HuG concepts of centrifugal/centripetal forces, multinational states, etc. This enhanced my knowledge of these topics, and also brought my attention to current affairs.

Watch Power of Place Videos

Power of Place videos are probably my favorite and least favorite part of taking this course. They were not always the most exciting videos, but they are extremely useful.

For example, my class watched the “Ethnic Fragmentations in Canada” Power of Place, which directly corresponded to one of the FRQs on the 2016 AP Test about language and culture in Montreal, Canada. It was incredibly helpful, to say the least, and I would highly recommend watching them, especially if you are concerned about applying concepts in your FRQs. Here is the link to all the videos.

            Overall, you will get out what you put into this course. It is challenging, but a 5 is easily attainable if you work hard, pay attention to concepts both in and out of class, and start preparing early. Now go study and kill that AP test!



Ahead of the Game: Preparing Yourself for the College Admissions Process


“So this is it,” you think as you walk through the crowded hallways on your first day of high school, “this is where I’ll spend the next four years making some of the most important decisions of my life and determining the rest of my future career. My whole life lies within the palms of these classrooms” Ok, maybe not. You'll probably be stumbling through the halls filled with tall, intimidating upperclassmen while struggling to find your next class within the unfamiliar campus. Your mind will be too occupied with the pressure of being the little fish in this giant ocean of sharks and dolphins. College and your career will probably be the last things on your mind as a high school underclassman, but as time progresses, you'll realize that time flies faster than lightning, and your future is much more imminent than you think. Here’s how you can grasp and shape your future before time does it for you.

It’s Never Too Early

So many high school underclassmen, including myself, make the mistake of believing that “it's too early to be worrying about the future.” I mean you barely just got to high school… you still have plenty of time, right? Well, yes, you have 3-4 whole years, in fact. But like I said before, time will fly, and if you leave the idea of preparing for college on the back burner for the first couple years, you might find yourself lost and struggling to make rash decisions as upperclassmen. You don't have to know exactly what career path you'll want to follow right away, and you don't have to have your list of top ten dream colleges on your first day of freshman year either; these things you'll figure out within your time in high school. You just have to be mindful of what you are building for yourself as you continue your academic journey. The smallest things will make the biggest differences in the long run when it comes to college preparation.


Freshman Year: Getting Involved

As a freshman, something that will doubtlessly help you determine what you want to do with your future is getting involved with school. Whether you are involved in athletics, clubs, student council, or community service, participating in these kinds of groups will give you an idea of the things you like and don't like. Don't be afraid to try things that are unfamiliar or new; freshman year is the perfect time to test different waters. This way, you'll discover activities that you love and will be able to pursue those passions in your remaining years of high school, and possibly decide your intended career path through these experiences. However, you should remember to not put too much on your plate and wisely choose activities that you think you'll enjoy. It's better to be completely involved and passionate about a few things than to be slightly involved in an abundance of activities. The great thing about exploring different things in freshman year is that you'll have plenty of wiggle room to change your mind in later years. Being involved in extracurricular activities can also help you build lots of new friendships, which is a great way to get more comfortable with high school. Extracurricular activities are an essential part of college applications, so starting them right away will definitely be beneficial to your application process in the future.

Sophomore Year: Taking Initiative

Sophomore year is definitely one of the most exciting and relaxing years of the high school experience. You've adjusted well enough to the aspects of high school, you're finally comfortable with your atmosphere, and plenty of new opportunities that weren't offered to you as a freshman will be provided to you. Though it may not seem like it, you have lots of control over your future within this school year. You're not yet an upperclassman but you're no longer a freshman, so it's the perfect time to fix any mistakes you made last year, and set yourself on the right track for the upcoming years. If you didn't do so well with grades in your freshman year, now would be a good time to step up your game, and put a little more effort into studying. Sophomore year is also a perfect time to begin the college search. Yes, it may seem a little early, but like I said previously, the smallest things will make the biggest differences. Doing a little research on potential schools won't hurt you. You should start by thinking about the kinds of schools that you would have a good chance of getting into based on your current transcript (GPA, classes), extracurricular activities and potential career path. Though you may not have that much information, and these things can always change as you continue high school, it's good to have a general idea of where you could possibly end up. You should then look for schools that you want to go to or “reach schools”. These are schools that exceed your current grades but you still would love to attend and have a small chance at getting into. The thing about looking into reach schools as a sophomore is that you still have chances of improving your academic performance in your junior and senior years and raising your average GPA. This way, you'll have more motivation to progressively do better in school.

Starting on the Right Track

As an underclassman, especially freshmen, you may not worry too much about getting a 4.0 GPA right away since it's only your first year and you'll have plenty of room to grow. This is exactly right, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try your best to get the grades that you want. You'll later realize that freshman year is the easiest year, so take advantage of this and excel in all of your classes. Since your transcript is the most important element of college applications, it’s better to start off on the right track than to realize too late that you could've done better. But of course, if you don't do so well, you still have plenty of years ahead of you to make up for it. Colleges like to see that your GPA moves in an upward trend as you get older; they like to see that you're progressively getting better and consistently trying to do your best.

Point out Your Flaws and Fix Them

The first two years of high school can be a sort of trial and error experience. You might have difficulties determining who you are and what you want to do with yourself at first, which is perfectly fine because that's exactly what the whole high school experience is all about. But once you start junior year things will get so much more legitimate and serious, so it's important that you consider lots of things before you become an upperclassman. The summer after every school year, you should make a list of things you succeeded in as well as a list of things you wish you could've done better in. You could then have an idea of the things that you want to continue next year, things you want to improve on, and things you want to try next year. Doing this will really help you prepare for every new school year and will keep you ready to tackle any challenge that comes your way. As said before, improvement is something that college admissions officers pay close attention to.


Building a Relationship with Your Counselor

You may not know it as an underclassman, but your guidance counselor is one of the best resources for the college search and college admission processes. Discussing these things with them at an early stage will be nothing but beneficial to you. You should go to them with any questions or concerns that you have about college or your future in general and frequently update them with any information that you come upon while doing research (such as an interest in particular schools or career paths). Keeping in touch with your counselor can also be beneficial to your application itself as they can possibly be writing you a recommendation letter in a couple of years.

Being Aware

The main aspect of being prepared for the college admission process before it comes to you is to simply be aware of the whole situation. Being mindful that your future is a lot closer than you think will definitely prepare you for the challenges that are to come to you in the long run.


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