My College Prep Advice to High School Seniors
Start writing a post
Student Life

My College Prep Advice to High School Seniors

It isn't as easy as they make it seem like in High School Musical 3.

My College Prep Advice to High School Seniors

For the past three weeks, I've had the privilege of being a summer RA for USC Summer Programs, a month-long academic program for high school students. Most of the residents I've met are on the brink of beginning their senior year, meaning that college applications are just around the corner. Being around these bright-eyed, ambitious individuals has given me vivid flashbacks to when I was in their shoes. As I look back, I realize it's only fair for me to share my advice with whatever other frazzled seniors may need it.

The SAT and ACT do not spell out your doom.

This was a huge concern for me in high school, as I wasn't the best test taker. Standardized tests do a less than perfect job of measuring your aptitude for critical thinking and academic success, which explains why more colleges are now opting for test-optional admission. In any case, colleges look at applications holistically, meaning they won't throw your application to the side if you don't exceed a certain SAT and ACT score. Some colleges have higher averages and ranges of scores than others, but I promise that these statistics aren't the be-all end-all. Do your best on tests, but know that other parts of your application can set you apart if you highlight them with effort and confidence.

The essay is more important than you think.

Write something that no one else could write-- something that captures your essence right off the page. This sounds daunting, but with enough thought, it will come more easily than you think. When it comes to essay-writing, the most common mistake you can make is to write an essay that is cliche, disingenuous, or both. The sophistication and clarity of your writing style is something you should think of as a given rather than a factor that will make you stand out. From a technical standpoint, thousands of applicants to your dream school will be strong writers. What sets you apart is the ability to clearly use your own voice in order to tell your specific story. Let the admissions officers get to know who you are and what you would contribute to their environment. The essay is your chance to confide something qualitatively different than what is shown on the rest of your application; rehashing your accomplishments is redundant.

Once you have your topic, write multiple drafts. Show your essay to as many outside eyes as you can. Get insight from your teachers, counselors, and friends. One thing in particular that motivated me was to have essay-writing days with friends. Swapping and editing essays with them made the process feel faster and more fun.

Keep an open mind.

Apply to schools you would genuinely love to attend, regardless of whether they have the highest ranking. This is a great starting point when it comes to narrowing down your list and pinpointing what qualities you prioritize in a school.

On the flip side, know that you may not end up where you expected. I always envisioned myself attending a small liberal arts college in the northeast, and I ended up at a large research university out west. I knew these schools all had qualities I liked, but it took opening my mind to realize that USC was a better fit than what had been my ideal for so long.

Become comfortable talking about yourself.

Opening up is hard. As an introvert, I still struggle with this sometimes. However, I'm more comfortable talking about myself now that I've undergone so many college interviews, which almost always begin with the dreaded "tell me about yourself." It's broad, so take it and run. Own who you are and what you want to highlight about yourself in the short time you can. Come with questions you genuinely want answered, and be yourself. It will not be scary in the slightest.

Don’t forget to enjoy your senior year.

Fall semester of senior year, my mental health was horrendous. I didn't sleep, I skipped lunches to go to the library or college counselor's office, I didn't live in the moment, and I didn't enjoy a lot of things I could've with a better mindset. I was so set on striving for perfection and applying to a million schools that I didn't take care of myself. Work hard, but don't let the stress of college prep eat away at you every day. You're allowed to feel good about yourself and put some trust in the unknown.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

I just recently got engaged and planning a wedding during a pandemic is actually kind of a nightmare.

A lot of venues are taken for 2021 because of corona brides and grooms who have had to reschedule their weddings and the same goes for other vendors and literally everything else.

Keep Reading... Show less

While promoting her most recent movie, "Work It," Sabrina Carpenter has divulged some of her favorite beauty products to interviewers.

Keep Reading... Show less

When I say we can't stop thinking about the relationship advice Miley Cyrus dropped on "Call Her Daddy" today, I mean it literally.

Her truth bombs hit me (and most who listened) like a wrecking ball and coupled with the release of her new song "Midnight Sky," we're going to need some time to process the greatness. In case you haven't listened yet (what are you waiting for?), here are 10 relationship tips Miley shared that we should all live by for the rest of time.

Keep Reading... Show less

Founders Of Color: Rec Room's Dre Taylor On What Blackness Can Look Like And Not Working For Free

"It mattered to me that when we were depicting racial diversity for Rec Room, we showed the broad spectrum of what Blackness can look like."

Rec Room

The world of sustainable fashion is inundated with marketing gimmicks, false advertising, and large corporations cutting corners — Rec Room is the pure antithesis of that.

Keep Reading... Show less

"New Girl" is one of the best sitcoms of all time. Honestly, it is so much fun to watch, so much fun to relate to, just all around a great show.

Not only is a great show, it has so many different great settings, obviously including the loft. If you live by Nick Miller quotes and desperately tried to learn how to play "True American," you need to buy these things because you are a true "New Girl" fan.

Keep Reading... Show less

You know those items you've been pinning to your Home board on Pinterest for [insert amount of time]? Well, it's officially the moment to turn that wishlist into a married life reality, and it's going to be SO fun.

But, before you get to shopping and adding things to your upgraded bridal wishlist (sorry, Pinterest, it was lovely while it lasted), you'll first want to decide where you want to open your registry (or registries, if you want options). Here are 17 of the best websites and stores to consider saying "I do" to for your wedding registry, to have and to hold for as long as people are buying you wedding gifts.

Keep Reading... Show less

If you've ever been in the dating game, or currently are, chances are you've had a date gone wrong. These are often times super embarrassing, but they are always funny to look back on.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 At-Home Therapy Tips You Need, No Matter What Your Therapy Routine Is

Whether you're in a Zoom session or live-chatting, make sure your home therapy space is good to go.

No matter what stigmas you held about therapy before this year, I'm sure 2020 has affirmed that we could ALL use a nice long therapy session. Between wildfires that took over an entire continent, a global health crisis, and what's sure to be one giant circus of an election in the United States, we need help and we need it now.

The fact of the matter is, therapy has been a helpful, valid resource long before the world decided to become one giant dumpster fire. Having a safe space to discuss what's going on in your life, worries you have, and struggles you're facing has become a very normal thing for individuals' mental health.

Keep Reading... Show less

Dunkin' just announced that they'll be releasing their fall menu earlier than ever — set to debut on August 19 — and that it'll include new menu options this season, including a new signature pumpkin spice latte. Let me just say, Starbucks has some fall-menu competition now.

Keep Reading... Show less

When it comes to wedding planning, each and every detail is customized to the style of the couple. From venue and decorations to food and beverages, nothing gets overlooked — whether your wedding is big, small, or virtual.

The same thing goes for invites, which are getting more and more beautiful every wedding season. If you're looking to customize your wedding invitations, the options are endless... you can add pictures if you wish, opt for fancy artwork, or keep it simple with just text).

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments