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What got you into college?

What got you into college? What are some things that colleges like to see? If I’m a sophomore in high school, what unique thing should I do?

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Subject: Career question for you

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Fatima’s Answer

I enjoyed studying modern languages and knew that I wanted to continue studying Spanish and French. It was an easy decision for me. Whilst I did not move into a career directly related to using the languages that I studied, it has been useful during my career. I am about to start working on a programme in Spain and the organisation I am working with would prefer to communicate in Spanish.
One tip - study what you enjoy. You might not end up working in a job or industry related to your studies, but you will have learnt skills during your studies and relevant to working life e.g. meeting deadlines, possibly working with other teams, demonstrate that you are willing to learn etc ... If you are studying for several years, you want to study what you enjoy.
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Patrick’s Answer

Valentina, I appreciate your curiosity about college admission. I'm hopeful that the information I'm about to share will shed light on your queries.

My college acceptance was due to my grades, high school ranking, and recommendations from teachers and community leaders. Similarly, my sons' college acceptances were based on their grades, compelling personal essays, and high academic honors. It's important to understand that colleges evaluate prospective students based on a variety of factors. While each college may prioritize different aspects, there are a few common elements that are generally important.

Firstly, strong academic performance is key. This means maintaining a high GPA and taking challenging courses.

Secondly, colleges often favor students who engage in extracurricular activities, such as clubs, sports, volunteer work, or part-time jobs. These activities show your ability to juggle responsibilities and highlight your interests outside of academics. Leadership roles within these activities can be especially appealing to admissions officers.

Community involvement and a dedication to making a positive difference are also highly valued by colleges. Participating in volunteer work or community service projects not only shows your kindness but also your commitment to improving the lives of others.

Lastly, highlighting your unique talents, interests, and experiences can make you stand out from other applicants. Whether it's a passion project, research participation, starting a club, or unique hobbies, colleges value students who bring diversity and unique viewpoints to their campus. As a high school sophomore, now is the perfect time to explore your interests, participate in activities that you enjoy, and push yourself acadically. Look for leadership opportunities, volunteer in your community, and pursue activities that align with your passions and goals. By actively working to create a diverse profile and showcasing your individuality, you'll be in a strong position for the college admissions process.
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Tyler’s Answer

Hello Valentina! I decided to go college because I wanted to gain a thorough education in biochemistry, as I had always been fascinated by the science of the body and how matter can be used to create the life we all get to experience. I believe I communicated this passion in my college applications, which is truly what all colleges would like to see. Always pursue what you are passionate about, whether or not that entails going to college or not! I hope this helps.

Tyler recommends the following next steps:

Make a list of your interests/hobbies/passions/aspirations
Try to rank them in order of most important to you to least important to you
Go out and pursue the ones you find most important!
Thank you comment icon I am really grateful you took the time to answer this question. Valentina
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Martha’s Answer

These are excellent questions, Valentina, and you have received great advice. Let's take them one-by-one:
1) I can guess what got me in - good grades, demonstrated leadership, carefully crafted essays, etc. - but I will never know for sure. Unless their admission officer told them, others don't know, either. Usually, it is a combination of personal factors, plus what the college/university needs in their "community" that year. So, as the others have said, present yourself authentically-that is all you can do.
2) The admission sites of colleges will usually describe what they are looking for. If you can, go to information sessions and tours at the schools to get the feel of the place and hear more about what they are looking for. Most places want academic achievement (also demonstration of intellectual curiosity), a willingness to contribute to the college community and/or the surrounding community, and personal traits of tenacity and thoughtfulness.
3) Everyone is unique because no one else is in your family and school, in your community, at this point in time. The art is in describing that unique combination and what you have done with it in the world and how it is relevant to your future.

Good luck!
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Myles’s Answer

Hi Valentina,

Adding to the other answers and recommendations, in my sophomore year of high school, I generally felt a career in business would satisfy both some of my passions, as well as to present an opportunity to build a successful career. For me, that meant registering for courses (available to me at the time at my specific high school) which included an introduction to business, marketing, and DECA (as an elective), commit to learning a foreign language (unique and applicable as you feel), and a couple graphic design courses (as I'd thought initially I wanted to be a graphic design and visual marketer). What I'd recommend is to follow what interests you most and align the interests with the courses you take to, best differentiate yourself from your peers, and of course, achieve good grades and test scores, and you'll be best positioned to compete when applying for colleges, universities, or vocational schools/training.

Wishing you all the best in your schooling and career ahead.

Myles
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Rian’s Answer

Hi Valentina,
One thing I would recommend for getting into college is to take classes in high school that relate to what you want to study in the future. For example, as someone studying biology, I made sure to take biology and chemistry classes in high school to showcase to colleges my passion and interest for the field. Not only that, I pursued extracurricular activities that were related to the field of medicine, which is my future goal. To stand out to college admissions, I'd just recommend to pursue what interests you so that when the time comes, you're able to write passionately about it.
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Rebecca’s Answer

Thank you for your question. Many students have similar question. Firstly, you have to identify the careers you have interest. Some careers, e.g. accounting, engineering, legal, medical, etc., it requires college degree. Some careers, e.g. culinary, cosmetic, hair styling, etc., it is better to acquire the skill in vocational school.
Below are my suggestions :
1. Think about what you have interest, e.g. your hobbies, favourites subjects, etc. and determine what you have interest
E.g. If you like music, would you like to be a musician, musical artist, singer, music composer, music producer, etc.
If you have interest in maths, would you like to be an accountant, engineer, banker, financial analyst, maths teacher, etc.
2. Find out more on these careers and determine what you have interest
3. Speak to someone who are working in these careers. Seek guidance from your mentor, school career counsellor, your parents, etc.
4. Shortlist 1-2 career you would like to pursue. Determine you can acquire the and skills in colleges or vocational school
5. Explore the entry criteria of relevant subjects in college or vocation school
On the other hand, apart from learning the knowledge, colleges also train up your critical thinking and analysis skills. You can also gain experience to organize activities and establish people network. These are valuable asset in your lifetime.
Hope this helps! Good Luck!
May Almighty God bless you!
Thank you comment icon I think what helps get into college is showing you're well-rounded and passionate about something. Colleges love seeing your involvement in extracurricular activities, community service, and having good grades. If you're a sophomore, try to find a unique hobby or project that you're really into and can grow with. It shows colleges you have initiative and are capable of commitment, which they like:) Tom
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Jenya’s Answer

Hey Valentina,

I agree with a lot of the other advice given. I would also say that college admissions is some what a dice roll. One admission counselor might think your application is the best ever which another might not let you in to that school. So with that being said, if you are able to apply to a variety of different schools. Also, make sure to do research about the schools you are applying to and tailoring your application to them. I know that CommonApp makes it easy to speed through applications, but I would take the time to edit your essays accordingly. Also, if possible try to apply into a specific school or program (business school, internation relations program ect ect).

Finally, getting into a school or not doesn't decide your fate or "how smart you are". College is just one step in the direction you want to go in. Good luck!
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Chris’s Answer

Hi!

You asked an excellent question and I hope I am able to provide some good perspective. For me the most important thing I wanted admissions teams to see was how varied and well-rounded my interests are. During high school, I prided myself on my academics but I also was involved in many extracurricular activities and held a job. When I wrote my essays for colleges I wrote about experiences that I had that impacted how I thought and why I wanted to go to college. For example, I wanted to be a teacher so I wrote about how a job I had working with kids while coaching and umpiring sports showed me how powerful an adult mentor can be for kids. To me, explaining why I want to go to school and what my motivations are far more powerful than grades can be.

I hope my advice helps and I wish you the best of luck :).
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, Chris! Valentina
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