It seems like nowadays you have to practically win a Nobel Prize to get into College. It felt like that too when I was applying for a program. I remember some of my friends going out of state for college, and I kept thinking to myself that I just couldn?t leave my family! I wanted to be close enough to be able to see my family often, but far enough so I could still have the whole college experience. So, I applied to a few UC programs. I felt the strongest connection to UC Riverside, since my brother had just graduated from there. He always told me that they had a really strong Biology program, and that was exactly why it was one of my first choices for college. Additionally, one of my best friends was going there, and we wanted to be roommates! UC Riverside ended up being one of the best experiences of my life!
If it?s time for you to apply to college, remember that no matter where you go, it will not predict your future. You are the one that will CREATE your future, and determine your success.
With that said, here are some things to consider when applying to college:
1. What is most important to you?
Do you want to be on your own and live in an area much different that you grew up? Or do you want to stay close to home and close to your family? Sometimes I think it would have been fun to be across the country (maybe New York) for a few years. At the time, I wasn?t ready for the move and I definitely had the time of my life in college, but looking back, it may have been a good experience to live in a different state temporarily.
2. GPA & SAT:
Yea, yea. We all know these are important for your application, and although they can determine which schools you are a competitive applicant for, they don?t define you. Consider taking AP (advanced placement) and honors courses to make yourself a more competitive applicant. Also talk to your guidance counselor about the application process, your GPA, and SAT scores to get a better idea of what you can do to prepare yourself. I definitely recommend taking an SAT prep course to help you master this exam. (I like Kaplan or Princeton review).
3. Personal Statement:
This is your opportunity to share why you are special and to make yourself stand out to the admissions committee. If you had a bad grade or two because of a hardship, here?s your chance to share that hardship and point out how you got through it and what you learned. If you have spent the past few years filling your schedule with extracurricular activities so you can stand out, you can share them in this section and show why they have molded you into a student that the college of your choice is lucky to have.
4. Letters of Recommendation:
If the school you are applying to requires letters of recommendation, take it as another opportunity to stand out! Meet with people you have a connection with. Explain to them what you would like highlighted in the letter. Make sure they point out your strengths. It may help to provide your letter writer with a resume. Make sure you give your letter writers plenty of time. Remember that they are doing you a favor, and you want them to have an appropriate amount of time. It also wouldn?t hurt to ask to see a copy of the letter before it?s sent to the schools. That way if you want something added or rearranged, it can be done before it?s sent out.
5. Keep in mind that this should be an exciting process.
Give yourself plenty of time so that you can fill out the application to the best of your ability. Even though it can be a little stressful and you may feel pressure from time to time, remember to enjoy the process! After all, it?s one step you are taking towards creating your future!
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