By our Smarty Teen Blogger, Clare Gibbons
In late August this past year, I began the dreaded junior year of high school. The stress of going on college tours, taking AP classes, preparing for standardized tests, and juggling extracurriculars began to set in. The first thing anyone who I had just met would ask me is, “Have you started thinking about college?”. As soon as I heard this question, I was overwhelmed with all of the important decisions I would soon have to make, and I suddenly felt the impulse to go home and pour over some SAT prep book.
I love the idea of going to college, but 3/4 of the way through junior year I am still experiencing more nerves than excitement. I expect this will continue until after applications have been sent in and I start receiving acceptance letters. It is exciting to think that I will soon be living in a new place, making new friends, and beginning an entirely new part of my life. However, college is also daunting because it is the first time I will have to be fully independent, learn how to support myself, and survive without the comforts of living at home with family and friends nearby.
Even more intimidating than going to college however is the idea of getting into college. The best thing I have done since I’ve started looking at colleges is to go on college tours of different campuses. This has made it easier for me to narrow down my list because I’ve determined I’d like to be near a city in a fairly large school preferably near my family. At this point, I have started to gather what my favorite schools are and what I will have to do to be accepted into them, but at the end of the day it comes down to the application. I have begun talking to older students about the application process and new college students about choosing the right school, which is a great way to get reliable information.
For teens approaching the college years, the most important thing for them to remember is that their GPA is the most important aspect of college applications. In order for students to have their GPA where they want it by the time the application process starts during senior year, they need to have a proper basis established in freshman and sophomore year. I know many students who only became concerned with their grades in junior year, and by then it is already too late.
In addition to GPA, the SAT and ACT are vital to most college applications. Preparing for those tests is usually strenuous and tiresome, but a great way for students to boost their scores. The first time you go into one of those standardized tests, it is best to go in with no expectations, and then if you decide to take it again, begin preparing and set a goal for yourself.
Lastly, each student should be pursing passions outside of school whether it be volunteering, sports, drama, or music. Colleges love to see students involved in their community or doing something they enjoy. Extracurriculars are a great way to show colleges what a well-rounded person you are and help to complete the application.
The most important advice that my parents have given me about choosing a college is to pick a college with an environment in which I will be able to both live in and learn in. You spend four years of your life at college, and it is important to remember that wherever you choose should be a place where you will find a balance between a good lifestyle and a good education.
College is becoming a reality as my junior year comes to a close, and I am both thrilled and anxious for the next few months ahead when I will start the application process. Good luck to any Smarty readers doing the same thing!