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What can I do since 8th grade to get into schools like MIT or Standford?

I’m in eighth grade and I can’t play sports.

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Subject: Career question for you


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Brittney’s Answer

Hi Paula!

This is an excellent question, and you are asking at the perfect time! The best thing you can do is try to keep your grades up as high as you can. With good grades, you have a chance at being placed in honors or AP classes early on in Highschool. These classes are very impressive to colleges when they look back at your transcript, and if you are able to maintain high grades in challenging courses you will increase your chances of earning an academic scholarship.

I would also recommend doing a bit of research into their admissions. What is the typical test score range of the students they admit? What are the requirements of their admissions process? Knowing the answers to these questions early on will give you more time to plan and prepare yourself.

I wish you all the best!
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Charlie’s Answer

Your timing is great, because everything you do starting in the 9th grade counts and the earlier you start the better.

The good news is that you are starting early and that will give you the best chance to put together a compelling application when the time comes.

9th Grade:
Take Honors or AP courses when possible
Work on good grades As, A-, B+ but mostly As. Work on your time management and organization skills so you can keep up with homework and studying.
Since sports is not your thing, join a club, or maybe try out for the play, or play an instrument. Starting early looks good on your application. The Common App has a place to list the years you were in a club; you can check all 4 years if you start now. Also, getting in early will help you be considered for a leadership role in 11th or 12th grade.

10th Grade
Take Honors or AP courses when possible
Continue to keep your grades up.
Continue to be a member of the club or performance groups.
Prepare to take the PSAT (if you are a good test taker, the top scores qualify you for National Merit Scholarship and a very valuable asset on your application. If you don't get NMS it's ok, there are other things you can do.
Start preparing for SAT or ACT tests later in the year.
Consider volunteer work if your schedule permits

Optional Summer Pre 11th - Look for a summer internship or a job in an area you think you may want to work.

11th Grade
Take Honors or AP courses when possible
Grades, Clubs, volunteering
Participate in club competitions (example: FBLA state competitions) and get recognition.
Consider becoming a leader in the club or sports team
Prepare for the SAT or ACT
Build relationships with teachers for references in your senior year.

Summer Pre 12th
Internship in Government or relevant to your area of study.
Visit the schools you are interested in - Register and take the tour. Send questions to Admissions to show your interest
Make a list of schools you want to attend
Start working on your college essay

12th Grade
Take Honors or AP courses when possible
Grades, leadership, volunteering
Become President of the club or performance group.
National Honor Society
Academic Awards - Academic All-State for sports or clubs
Build relationships with teachers for references.
EARLY ACCEPTANCE - If there is one top school you want to go to, apply for early acceptance. The acceptance rate is much higher.
Continue the applications to other schools.

Good luck.
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Karin’s Answer

Hi Paula,

You got some good advice already, but please don't forget that there are other schools than MIT and Stanford. Most state universities will give you a good education at least as a basis. They teach the same stuff. Actually, you might get more attention because the professors are not constantly travelling.

If you want more exposure, many universities, National Labs or NASA have summer programs for undergrads that you can participate in.

You can also move later, e.g. for your PhD so you can work with a well-known specialist in the field you choose.

Overall, it is more important that the school and your future supervisor "fit" you. If your future supervisor, that superstar you wanted to work with, is a bully that drives you into depression and has half of his students drop out, you are not winning. Academia can be brutal, and a supportive team is super valuable.

Good luck!