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What is the best thing a sophomore in high school can do to start preparing for college?

I’m going into my second year of high school and want to make sure I do everything I can to have a solid application for colleges. I have a 4.3, I do service every week, I am also a dancer and run cross country. What would you recommend?
#high-school #college #sophmore #schools #high-school-students #experience #advice #law #law-school #july20 #july #july2020

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John’s Answer

Olive admission to your dream college is not only contingent on academic success, but also your extracurricular work. College admission officers want to know you as more than just a number – they want to know what makes you tick – what are you passionate about, what drives you? Many students are convinced that they need to build up a huge resume, with pages and pages of activities that they are involved in. However, admissions officers do not want to see a resume with hundreds of activities, each of which you only spent a small amount of time on. They know that as a student, you only have a limited amount of time beyond your academic obligations, and they want to see that you use that time to truly pursue your interests and passions. Now, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pursue diverse activities or interests, but whatever you do choose to pursue, you should make meaningful.

You should pursue three or four activities that you are truly passionate about, and that you are willing to invest time in over the course of your high school career. The activities should reflect diverse aspects of yourself and your personality- your maturity, service, dedication, leadership skills, and of course, your passions. Pursue one academic-oriented activity (an activity geared towards the field of study that you want to pursue in college), one leadership activity, one personality activity and one community service activity. The academic-oriented activity really helps to show admissions officers that you are truly passionate about the field you are choosing to pursue. The leadership activity helps to show admissions officers that you are hard-working, have people skills, and can be an innovator in your field. The community service activity shows responsibility and empathy. The personality activity helps interesting aspects of your personality to show through, and it shows balance.

Colleges and universities will also consider the strength of your schedule. The more selective schools, especially, prefer candidates who have taken the most challenging courses available to them. This demonstrates a strong work ethic and a commitment to academics and scholarship. A student who seeks to challenge himself in high school will likely continue to succeed in college.

When it comes to extracurricular activities, colleges are looking for quality, not quantity. An extensive laundry list of activities is not as impressive as a long-term, deep commitment to a few activities of high interest to you. Colleges actually like seeing that you have specialized interests and passions and are willing to make a solid commitment. Try to take on just a few extracurricular activities for a long period of time and to spend several hours a week on each of these activities.

Another quality you can demonstrate through your extracurricular involvement is leadership. Keep in mind that colleges and universities are also communities seeking to select students who will enrich the overall campus culture. Ideally, these students will be passionate leaders who will make a positive contribution to the campus. ( example: Captain of your cross country team )

Demonstrating a genuine interest in the school can work in your favor, particularly at the most selective colleges. This can involve going on tours/visits, talking to admissions officers, showing enthusiasm during an interview (if interviews are expected), or writing passionately about the school in a personal statement, etc. For this reason, applying early decision can also be an advantage. Applying early decision demonstrates that a school is your first choice. This is a sign that you will be a good influence on campus and you will use your education to make a difference in the future. If you can demonstrate the majority of the qualities that colleges look for in a student, you should have a strong chance of admittance to even the most selective of schools.

Olive admissions officers look first at test scores, the rigor of the courses you take, and your grades in those courses. After that, they are interested in a student’s extracurricular activities — in other words, how you spend your time outside of classes. Colleges care about the character of people they admit; therefore, what you do after school, during weekends and over summers tells them a lot about the kind of person you are. When you think about it, you are what you do every day, every month, every year.

Hope this was Helpful Olive

John recommends the following next steps:

YOUR FRESHMAN YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL – Freshman year is the perfect time to taste and explore.
YOUR SOPHOMORE YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL – Sophomore year is the time to pare down and focus your activities to three or four projects or areas of interest based on what you really enjoy.
YOUR JUNIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL – By the time you hit your junior year, you should be well settled in favorite activities. If, however, you haven’t done that, it is never too late to get involved. Look for ways to make a difference — become an officer or leader, and especially go beyond just being a member of a club or activity.
YOUR SENIOR YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL – Since going through the college application process will take up a lot of free time, be sure that your extracurricular involvements are those that you really enjoy and are meaningful to you.
YOUR SUMMER BEFORE GOING TO COLLEGE– Colleges are very interested in what students do during summer vacations. Any indication that you have done nothing more than play video games, watch television, get a good suntan or just hang out with friends is not going to please admissions officers.

Thank you so much this was actually really reassuring! I have been dancing since I was 6, I have been volunteering with the same service organization since 7 grade, and I have also been in some kind of leadership at school since middle school. Thank you again, Olive olive P.

Keep reaching for the STARS Olive, I know one day YOU are going to become a STAR! John Frick

Honestly, his answer covers most of what college admissions and professionals will be looking for. I'm glad to see you have volunteer time noted as well, since most Fortune 500 and 'Best Places to Work' nominees tend to focus on volunteering as well for their employees. While it might be difficult while in college, pick a volunteer mission or hobby that you love to do and stick with it - don't overwhelm yourself with too much, just one or two that really speak to you. The more passion you keep with you for what you engage in will help you in the long run. Brittany Ferguson

Thank You Brittany. “Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. John Frick

John, great and thoughtful answers. I would say the best thing you can do is to stay vigilant with the time you spend and the friendships you cultivate. I have counseled and coached many young adults who start off focused and make academics, sports, and extracurricular activity a priority only to find themselves abandoning their efforts for the sake of a few friendships. The old adage is correct, you become who you surround yourself with... In addition, I would say that it is important to remain grounded to what is a part of your core values including your family. Sam Russo

Thank You Sam. “At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished… it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” – Denzel Washington John Frick

I definitely agree with almost everything John has said! Focus on the activities you love and take those harder classes. Spend your high school summers continuing to volunteer or work. However, I do disagree with his timeline for the summer before college. By then, you will have already chosen the college you want to attend, and it will be finalized. That is the one summer you'll have for years to come that is entirely yours. If you want to save up some spending money or get ahead on personal projects, that's great! If you want to do nothing more then tan at the beach and spend time with family/friends, you EARNED that. Take advantage of your last summer before you leave home! Morgan King

Thank You Morgan. Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision, the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. John Frick

Thank You Kelly. “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia John Frick

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Izabella’s Answer

Hi Olive! From a non-professional stand point and from my experience leadership and writing skills are essential to your application. I am a rising junior at NYU and I got in early decision about 2 and a half years ago. My GPA was very low, my SAT was also very low. I found ways around that and didn't let my hopes die, NYU was my dream school. I was enrolled in the IB diploma (which is almost equivelant to AP here in the USA) and I worked hard to make sure that I got perfect predicted scores so I applied with my IB grades instead of SAT. I also focused months on my essay. As a sophmore, I believe you should be enrolling in AP classes and taking more leadership positions. I created clubs at my high school and was team captain to a sports team. I have heard from multiple sources that creating a club or being president of one can be your ticket in. However, everyone's journey is different. Let me know if you have anymore questions!

Thank You this is really helpful! olive P.

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Stacey’s Answer

Keep up what you are doing, but if it is too much I would drop the extra curricular activities before the community service. Learn how to focus on what YOU want not, what everyone else wants you to do. I recommend practicing for the entrance exams, but also, if you have a career path in mind, maybe get an entry level job in that field. Now is the perfect time to switch jobs often without messing up your resume, but finding what you are really interested in. THEN look at collages that excel in that industry.

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Donna’s Answer

Hello Olive - you are definitely on the right path! John's answer below is really spot on. I worked for a brief time with a College Administrations Office on candidate screening. Not only are good grades, test scores important however, as John mentions below a "Well Rounded Candidate" will help you stand out above the rest. Other memberships like National Honor Society or even memberships to a cause such as ASPCA, something that reflects your personal passions. Also, a very good persuasive essay as to why your attendance at their school would also benefit them. Absolutely do your research about the school, the area, the activities and extra clubs they offer. Best wishes and stay on track!

Thank you so much! olive P.

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Richard’s Answer

You're on the right track so far, so make sure you don't stop doing any of those extracurriculars! One of the most important part of college applications besides those things is the essays you have to right, so it would be important for you to always work on the best essays you can for your classes. That way, you can have the best writing skills possible for those essays.

Another important thing would be to start taking the SAT and ACT right now to get the score you want. Do practice courses on Khan Academy specifically for those standardized tests or buy the study books for them. You can take the tests as many times as you want, so don't be afraid to start now! Best of luck