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Does anyone have advice for college applications?

I'm a sophomore in high school who's looking to get a head start on college applications or improving my resume. I'm interested in business and possibly a job in the medical field (?) and was wondering if anyone had any advice for what I should do to catch the attention of college application officers. #resume #college #university #business #medical


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Leif’s Answer

Do everything every one here is telling you, surely. But first I would encourage you to learn as much about as many schools that offer the program(s) you know you want. Figuring out the best school for you will motivate you and inspire you to write great essays and generally put in the effort on the application as a whole. College is about shaping who you are as a person and then taking those skills of your major, program, path, whatever... and making the best use of them in the workforce. Don't underestimate the importance of colleges shaping who you are as a person.

If you have the opportunity to visit the school you must do it. If you can only visit their website and scour the web for any additional information that is also fine. You'll often find avenues to alumni groups and Q&A platforms like these where you can ask questions and get a general feel for the type of professionals and people certain places attract.

I highly encourage you not to pay attention to ranking lists you'll inevitably come across in your search. Motives from those creating rankings are different from report to report. That tells you you should not bias your thinking about where you want to go based solely on lists.

Finally - for most, money can't just be ignored and I don't want to minimize that with what I've said but there are so many scholarships out there these days and other types of financial incentives/assistance that make going to the best school for you possible. If the school sees something special in you it's possible they make an effort to make it happen. All I am saying is don't count a school out of your list because its expensive. Maybe not all of them but one.

Leif recommends the following next steps:

Make a list of what is important to you in a college experience ex. (campus, 3+ hours away from home, good program, partying etc)
Make a list of 5 schools that purely interest you, no matter where they are, and research them.
Make a pros and cons list for each.
Employ the help of those you value their opinion and review the list

Yes, I'll definitely look into choosing a school that fits me :) Thank you for your advice! Tiana W.

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Nicole’s Answer

Hello,

This is a fantastic question to ask and when you are asking is perfect!

One thing I would strongly suggest, especially if you know you want to attend college, is start looking into taking a pre-SAT or pre-ACT exams. It gives you a taste of what to expect on the real exams and a head start on study material. This will relieve a LOT of stress come end of Junior year when you should be looking at these exams more seriously.

Next is start looking into the colleges you want to get into. Look at their areas of specialty degrees and what field you want to get into when it comes to medical science. It may even be good to make sure the school has the proper accreditations if you are thinking about graduate degrees too. These accreditations always vary depending on your field/specialty so narrow that down first. If you are interested in your own practice a minor in business and a major in medical science may be a wise investment! Don't let your college advisor talk you into no minor if you want options. Sure, it can help you graduate sooner but also narrows your flexibility with having options with the degree you achieve later in life. I was advised not to minor in anything because at the time I KNEW what I wanted to do and a year later that plan fell through and I had to go through more school to get my job now... when I wanted to minor in information technology which would have helped me in my current job.

Now that your sophmore year is almost over start really getting involved with teachers, coaches, leaders, etc in your school so come the end of the year you can start asking them for Letters of Recommendations for college programs. You will need at least three of these and junior year teachers are a great choice for recommendations because they can maintain that communication with you into senior year and be able to speak to your growth and dedication.

Every school is different with their application process. Some may ask you for resumes and others are short essays and resumes, and so on. So find at least 3 schools (ideally you should apply to anywhere between 5 to 8 schools) you love and find what kind of application process they expect and prepare for that. Lots of colleges love to hear about growth, difficult times you experienced and how you moved past them, etc. Unique stories that remain within their expected word count and subject tend to stick out the most. Get creative and pre plan a few ideas for essays if the schools you are interested in expect these. You will want to start planning on submitting your scores and applications towards the third to early fourth quarter of senior year. Early admissions gives you ample time to be accepted by numerous schools and have time to choose which one you want to attend or apply for more so you have options. Most schools start accepting new students by May 1st so by Jan of your senior year you should be submitting your test scores and applications to your chosen schools.

Lastly, start looking at activities and programs, clubs, anything relatable to the field you are pursuing that can be used on your resume would be a huge plus if you can! I know I went to a very small school so I had super limited resources, but I would find community efforts outside of school that could apply to the field, even mentor ship programs are great to get involved with and any volunteer efforts are great options as well!

When you graduate make sure to request a copy of your high school transcript and make plenty of copies. This will be required for every school you apply to. Obtain a pre copy if you can to make sure all entries are correct at the end of Junior year.

Nicole recommends the following next steps:

Start looking at preparing for and taking either a pre-ACT or SAT test and plan to take it within your junior year if you plan on attending a university first.
Start getting involved with clubs, activities, programs, volunteer efforts, etc that are applicable to your preferred area of study.
Junior Year: Start communicating with teachers, coaches, bosses etc that can provide you a Letter of Recommendation to college and ask at least 3 of them to write you a LOR by the end of the year.
Junior Year: Research what each college application may need that you are interested in attending and jot down some brainstorming of topics for any essays that may be requested.
By Senior year in Jan start applying for up to 5 to 8 schools you are interested in attending to get early admissions done so you can get in early and have time to review your "accepted status" options and choose the school that is best for you.l

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Amy’s Answer

I love your thoughtful question and drive! Enjoy this time of school and do the best you yourself can do personally, meaning in your studies and extracurricular activities. Be well rounded. Develop positive relationships with family, friends, teachers, mentors, coaches and yourself. Discover your areas of joy in life, study and work. Develop a love of learning.

Improvement of resume:
You may consider related volunteer opportunities within healthcare field or in the community. Ideas could be local health fares, fundraising race/walks like Race for Cure etc. Simply search online in advance and contact local event or race directors to volunteer. I feel this is important to many colleges.
Study a foreign language 2-3 years worth. Many top colleges have foreign language requirements.
Proactively request shadow days for professions of interest. Doing this requires courage. You will go far if you can on your own make these calls and arrange things yourself. This shows initiative.
When the events are completed keep in contact with the various people you meet and ask for letters of recommendation that would be for college admissions. Keep a file of your letters and contacts for future reference.

As you continue through high school and college key contacts you make can also assist with jobs, applications, and/or referrals as well.

Thank you so much for the advice! I'll definitely look into different opportunities :) Tiana W.

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Elana’s Answer

I think by pursuing things you authentically have a passion about you'll learn a lot.

You could spend some time this summer temp working in various companies--it will help you figure out if you prefer a small company, larger, start-up, more established, etc. Take notes/journal at the end of the week about the various things you learned from being there.

Informational interviews will also help a lot--how did this person get started in the field (Accounting, Marketing, etc)
What do they like about their job, what would they want to change, how many hours do they typically work, do they feel listened to by their boss, how do they manage relationships w/colleagues, etc. Most people will be glad to talk about themselves. And be sure to send a thank you note, it makes a big difference.

I'll definitely look into it, but a lot of companies aren't willing to offer internship positions to high schoolers. Do you know of any companies that might be offering or do you have any recommendations for getting such an opportunity? Thanks for the advice! Tiana W.

I don't necessarily mean a formal internship--but if you look for a temporary position (thru an agency, thru a personal referral, etc.), that could work. Elana Elstein

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Sungmin’s Answer

Although standardized test scores are important, remember it is only one part of your application (more and more schools are abandoning these scores in admission too). Many applying will have similar test scores but the experiences you bring aside from that will be the differential factor. I think it is important for you to have your own "story" on who you are and why you are passionate about different areas. One way to show this is to join a club and look to become a leader in it. Leadership is a skill that can be developed and many schools will look for those students who have the experience.

Finally, the college essay will also allow you to elaborate on these areas above. When the time comes to actually write and submit the essay, I recommend reaching out to your English/History teacher for proofreading.







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Gary’s Answer

Colleges and Universities have a large number of applicants so you will need to follow much of the advise listed here, but a few key items will be as follows:
1. Start a ACT or SAT prep class, these scores seem to be the driving force in the review process plus many schools will base added scholarship funds based on these scores.
2. It is fine to take the tests(ACT / SAT) more than once, you usually only need to report your best score, but they do cost and they do have to be scheduled.
3. Grades , Class Ranking and being well rounded in extracurricular activities is a plus to many schools.


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Lucas’s Answer

In addition to what everyone else said, which is all very good advice, I recommend (if you can) doing research at a lab or hospital if you are sure you want to go into the medical field. This is essentially, for some, a "cheat code" into very good schools- it is a sure fire way to differentiate yourself and show your passion in the field. Joining clubs and organizations and volunteering is all definitely important, and definitely devote your time to those as well, but research is something unique that not a lot of students would have. You can start on the path really by just reaching out to labs or hospitals in your area, reaching out to teachers that you have had that might have connections, or looking online- it might be difficult with COVID right now, but my best friend is a student at Harvard and one of the biggest reasons they accepted him was because of a lot of research experience in high school. Just one of many options to show your passion, but since you have time it is something worth exploring.

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Richard’s Answer

The most important parts of college applications are:
Test Scores - Most college require either the SAT or ACT. You're just the right time to begin taking them (you can take them as much as you want until you get a score you're happy with). Start studying through Khan Academy or buying study books at a library to prepare.
Volunteer Hours - Colleges always look for well-rounded, good people. A key component to this is how much of your time you spend volunteering.
Organizations, specifically leadership positions - Many universities LOVE leaders. Having leadership positions, especially elected ones, will help you both to get in to colleges and to get scholarships.
Good grades in tough classes - Take as many AP or IB classes as you can, and always work to have as high a GPA as you can.
Essays - The essays are some of the most important components of a good college application. During your classes, focus on improving your writings skills so that you can craft the best essays you can when your applications start.

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Donna’s Answer

Tiana, Great job forward thinking about college applications. There are two things that I would focus on at this time.

1) Get involved. Get involved with school activities and clubs. Get involved in your community, volunteer. You will make amazing contacts all while improving your resume and general knowledge. Not to mention it's fun.

2) Focusing on your grades is a given, but don't forget to have FUN. These are supposed to be the best years of your life. Be brave and reach out to try new things. Public speaking, zip-lining, scuba diving. Your hobbies and interests are also a part of your applications and colleges can appreciate a well rounded student.

Good luck.

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Janet’s Answer

Now is the time to find your passion. When you apply to colleges, you need to show you have a passion. This will be evident in your essays.
There is a big difference between the medical field and business. The schools you apply to might be stronger in one area than the other. You don't want to waste a year or two in college to find out you really want to go into business after taking 2 years of science and math classes.

I would recommend finding out if you like the medical field now - going into your junior year is a good time to get exposure

1. If your high school offers anatomy, I strongly recommend you take this class your junior year, not senior year. You will know going into your senior year (before you apply to colleges) if you have a passion for life sciences and medicine and don't mind blood- also this experience will be good for college essays

2. Find out if there are any internships or volunteer positions at your local hospitals / clinics. Ask your doctor or parent's doctors if you can shadow him/her this summer or after school. If research is something you like, try to get an internship at a research / bio tech company.

3. Take chemistry your junior year (AP if available). Take all AP sciences classes if available. These will make you better prepared for the college level science classes.


College Essays:

1. Make sure your essay is about "you" not someone else. As one college told me - when we asked you to tell us about the person who had the greatest influence on you... People wrote about their grandma and what a wonderful person she was - not how she made you a wonderful person...

2. Essay should show passion. Be creative. Keep to the word / character count. Have someone proof read your essays before submitting. Don't write about how you were cut from a team. Colleges hear these essays all of the time and everyone has had that experience.

Work hard, you are doing the right thing starting now to figure out college. Last thing you want to do is end up at a college that does not offer the majors you find out later you are interested in. Good luck you will do great where ever you end up. College is what you make of it!

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Aun’s Answer

Hey there! I'm also a sophomore in high school too! I'm looking at hopefully getting a job as a software engineer in the near future (FAANG eventually), and I totally understand how daunting it can be! First thing I recommend if you're interested in business is to start one! Since your interested in medicine as well, it could be a business with a focus on medicine! Also, if you can, take the initiative to develop leadership at school. This could be through working your way as president at a club, or even Valedictorian! Another thing I would recommend personally is finding unpaid (or paid) internships, as they can really show an admission officer your ambition and commitment to a profession. Don't worry too much about essays yet, but I recommend you to keep in mind your purpose for pursuing a certain profession. Is there a certain quality you have, or an experience that made you want to go into the field? This can really be leveraged when writing your essay, and can often be a big factor in whether you get into the prestigious universities and programs. Best of luck Tiana, I wish you the best in your journey!!

Loved your advice! Aaliyah Miller

I've actually also been thinking about starting a possible business, but it's really difficult to come up with ideas, especially with something relating to medicine. Do you have any possible suggestions? Thanks for letting me know and I also wish you good luck for the rest of your high school career! Tiana W.

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Gary’s Answer

Colleges and Universities have a large number of applicants so you will need to follow much of the advise listed here, but a few key items will be as follows:
1. Start a ACT or SAT prep class, these scores seem to be the driving force in the review process plus many schools will base added scholarship funds based on these scores.
2. It is fine to take the tests(ACT / SAT) more than once, you usually only need to report your best score, but they do cost and they do have to be scheduled.
3. Grades , Class Ranking and being well rounded in extracurricular activities is a plus to many schools.


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Jerel O.’s Answer

To gain the attention of college admissions officers, you want to ultimately stand out. So, what does standing out looks like a college admissions officer? Here are a few thoughts:
1. Build on your academic strengths
2. Score high on the SAT and/ or ACT
3. Showcase your leadership skills
4. Highlight your community service
5. Have strong letters of recommendation

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Ari’s Answer

It is amazing that you are thinking so far ahead into the future! My best advice would be to do the best that you can in the classes that you take and get involved with extracurricular activities. Colleges want to see that you are an asset in more than one way.

Of course! I'm currently trying to boost my resume :) Do you have any advice on what kinds of extracurricular activities I could get involved in relating to business or medicine? Tiana W.

When I was in high school I did DECA which pertains to business. On the medicine side of things unfortunately I do not have any ideas Ari Hagarty

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Lavanya’s Answer

Colleges want to see that you have a certain interest. Although it is good to be involved in different extracurriculars, make sure to have a focus. You don't want to overwhelm yourself by participating in various different activities and show that you don't have a specific subject of interest. Volunteering and being a part of Honor Societies may help contribute to this.

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Donna’s Answer

Tiana, Great job forward thinking about college applications. There are two things that I would focus on at this time.

1) Get involved. Get involved with school activities and clubs. Get involved in your community, volunteer. You will make amazing contacts all while improving your resume and general knowledge. Not to mention it's fun.

2) Focusing on your grades is a given, but don't forget to have FUN. These are supposed to be the best years of your life. Be brave and reach out to try new things. Public speaking, zip-lining, scuba diving. Your hobbies and interests are also a part of your applications and colleges can appreciate a well rounded student.

Good luck.

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Jeff’s Answer

Some out of the box ideas could be joining or creating a group at your school of people with similar interests. Volunteering at a local hospital or doctor's office to gain more knowledge. Ask if you can shadow someone to learn more about the field of medicine you're interested in.

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Denise’s Answer

Volunteer so you can show your breadth of experience in helping others.

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Jessica’s Answer

Hello Tiana, great question! It sounds like a good first step might be to figure out which are you'd like to focus on, business and medical are both good choices but each will have different steps to take to get noticed. The first step is identifying the area you'd like to focus on, at least for now. If you change your mind later that is more than OK (and likely to happen!) but it'll help you figure out how to get more exposure to what you think you might be most interested in right now.

For example, if you are more interested in focusing on business you may try and find someone to "shadow" at work, this doesn't need to be an internship but it can be a great way to understand what a day to day job in the business world might look like. Are there people in your life you may be able to reach out to to talk to them about their job? It could be a family member, or a friend's parent - anybody you know who may be doing a job that you are curious about in the business world (finance, accounting, marketing, sales).

The best way to stand out is to think about what you are most passionate about and pick up activities, volunteer, and get exposure to things that align with your passions. Your applications will stick out when they feel genuine and true and based on experiences you've had.

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Daniel P.’s Answer

Its great that you are thinking this far ahead, and the business of healthcare should be a great place to find a career path in the future. Especially with the baby-boomers aging.

There are lots of excellent schools with both medical and business degrees (and many with joint degrees like Nursing and MBA) and your options will increase dramatically of you put the work in now and get solid grades (no need to be perfect) and if possible volunteer or intern in a medical or business environment.

Also, be careful what you post on social media. Many businesses and admissions officers at competitive colleges scan the social media sites as part of the vetting process. A joke, and "funny" comment may not age well and there are examples of acceptances being rescinded due to soial media discoveries.

That said, look at planning for your career as an adventure. Try to figure out how business works (read the economist magazine, wall street journal and the business sections of newspapers) and what the business of medicine, pharmaceuticals hospitals and even insurance consists of. Have fun learning, its a great field your looking into!!

Daniel P. recommends the following next steps:

https://www.economist.com/

Thank you for your advice! I'm also currently looking into internships, but it's hard to find one that accepts high schoolers. Do you have any recommendations? Tiana W.

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