Hi Sam! Great question. I'm sorry it hasn't been answered yet! In the meantime, I thought I'd link you to a couple relevant Q&A on CareerVillage.org that should be super helpful.
- Get involved in school and within your community - but find leadership roles. You can even start a program at your school - colleges want to see how you've made a difference.
- Take pre-AP and AP courses - colleges want to see that you can handle tough classes.
- Start building relationships with your teachers (or boss) so they know you as a person rather than just a name - their recommendation letters will help the admissions team get another perspective on you.
- Get a job - colleges want to see if you can balance work and school
- Your essay is the best way to stand out - I know that won't happen until your Senior year - but you can start jotting down experiences - so when it comes down to write it, you're ahead of the game.
In short, college admissions want to get to know YOU! Aside from showing them who you are on paper via your grades, extra curricular activities and work history, your personal statement and/or essays is your biggest opportunity to do that. Your college application essays should be a genuine and candid look into your life, who you are and what you're passionate about.
Lindsey recommends the following next steps:
- Speak to a few students who attend the college(s) you hope to attend and ask what their applications were like /if they have any tips for you.
- There is a ton of advice about how to stand out in your college applications here on CareerVillage.org, so do more searching on the site!