What I Learned From the College Admissions Process

As soon as students enter the doors of high school, teachers, counselors, and parents fill their heads with right and wrong ideas about what it takes to get into college. Any one person may tell you that you need a specific test score to get into the college of your choice, but another may emphasize getting involved in activities more. As I have navigated through the college application process, I have found that no clear-cut method to success exists, but you can take actions to try to make it as easy as possible.

With around 9437 colleges in the United States alone, choosing the right school creates challenges. All schools will provide unique opportunities, but, by touring colleges and talking to acquaintances at various schools, I noticed that every school pitches the same ideas to prospective students. You can go pretty much anywhere and have an enriching college experience that will lead to a successful career so taking an emphasis off prestige will help you broaden your options. Instead, focus on what you want out of a school and what you want to study rather than getting caught up in the prestige and name of the school. “There’s a college for you,” said Senior Asia Anderson, “Each school is unique and can offer something.”

As you start the process, remember that the only you can hold yourself accountable for getting things done (and done well). Do not treat this as some worksheet you turn in for a completion grade. Stay disciplined, stay self-motivated, and stay open-minded and this process will go smoothly. “It’s a lot of time-consuming, extraneous work,” said senior Mikey Young, “It really makes you think back and reflect on who you are.” Lakeside seniors all emphasized the importance of beginning the process as early as possible. “I would have told myself to start earlier, test earlier, and procrastinate less if I could go back,” said senior Eliza Ashby. I began by filling in a little of my applications every time I had a chance which saved me time and stress during October and November. “Take your time because this is pretty important,” said Senior Christoffer Rokholm.

As you fill out your applications, remember that you should try to “sell yourself” as a good fit for the school. Test score and GPA can have a large impact, but showcasing your whole portfolio will make you a more likely to get accepted. Branch out and try a broad variety of activities, but stay consistent. You don’t need 40 clubs, but strong participation and leadership in a few quality organizations will go a long way. “Don’t try to cram activities in at the end of high school,” said senior Anna Floyd, “I would have liked to focus more on spreading your portfolio over your entire time in high school.”

See the Legend's Dylan Wakeman's take on college admissions here.

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