College Prep 2022
By Tonya Miller
The COVID-19 pandemic led to an enrollment decline at colleges, the Chronicle of Higher Education says, but it can still be tough to get into your school of choice.
Here are some tips for getting into the school of your choice.
GET THE BEST POSSIBLE GRADES
There’s an old axiom that no one hires you based on your high school algebra grade. And that may be true, but colleges do look at those things when they’re deciding to admit you. Get the best possible grades you can all four years of high school. Challenge yourself by taking tough courses, such as honors classes, Advanced Placement courses and International Baccalaureate classes.
PRACTICE TAKING TESTS
You want the highest score you can get on the ACT and SAT, so take the test as many times as you can. Take the PSAT during your sophomore year and take advantage of free SAT and ACT study materials, study guides, practice tests and prep courses before taking the tests your junior and senior year. Take both the SAT and the ACT, and leave yourself time to take them more than once. You should also take SAT Subject Tests and AP tests.
TAKE TIME WITH YOUR ESSAYS
Don’t leave your admissions essay until the last minute. Think carefully about the topic and reflect on it before you write. Edit, rewrite, edit again. Convey who you are in your writing and make yourself stand out from the crowd. Ask for feedback from your teachers, counselors and other trusted adults.
Colleges like to see active, engaged students. One way you can show that is through community involvement. Show that you were active in extracurricular and co-curricular activities during all four years of high school and during summer vacations. Volunteer, participate in sports, take on leadership roles. You should demonstrate growth in your journey and develop talent in more than one area.
You should start your college search early, no later than the start of your junior year. Research the schools you are interested in, complete applications, write essays and make sure you have time to take all the necessary exams.
Ask for help from your school counselor and teachers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if they seem simple.
Choosing a Major
About a third of college students will change their major sometime during their college careers, the U.S. Department of Education says, and about one in 10 will change majors more than once.
Students who change majors frequently risk losing valuable class credits and time as they move from program to program, so it’s important to make as few changes as possible once you get started.
MORE THAN A CAREER
Your major determines much more than what career you may tackle after you graduate. Many students join clubs related to their major and take the same classes with the same people throughout their academic career, leading to lifelong friendships. Make sure that your major aligns with your passion and values, because it’s going to be a big part of your life for the next four or even more years.
CONSIDER THE COLLEGE
When you’re looking at colleges, also consider how the majors you’re thinking about are taught there. Some colleges have a better reputation than others in certain subject areas, and that can lead to more opportunities down the road. You should also know if your chosen major will require more education, such as a graduate or even postgraduate degree for you to be successful. It may also help if you declare your major on college applications so that recruiters get a full picture of what you bring to an incoming class.
THINK ABOUT A MINOR
In addition to choosing a major, you’ll need to pick a minor, too, and you should be careful to choose one that reinforces skills across disciplines and prepares you to work in more than one industry. Micah Sadigh, a psychology professor, told U.S. News & World Report that he considers a minor “an interdisciplinary link” that expands how you think not only academically, but also about life and creativity
DON’T OVERTHINK EARNINGS
You should definitely consider what people in your major make after college, but don’t fixate on that. Graduates may take the skills they learned and put them to work in different, better-paying industries. Make sure that your first job out of school is one where you can learn and grow, not just get paid well. In the long run, what you’ve learned may count for a lot more than what you’ve earned.