After we published How to Begin the Admissions Process as a Junior, we received many questions from freshman and sophomore students (as well as their parents). Because of this, we decided to write this guide to help high school freshman and sophomores put themselves in the best possible position in the admissions process.
At this point, the process is much less specific and tactical, but there are certainly many things that students should keep in mind as they navigate their school year.
- The best way to succeed in the admissions process is to ignore the admissions process:
By this, I mean that students and families should look inward instead of outward. Too many students think about admissions as following as a formula (ie: these grades + this leadership position + this essay topic = Harvard). This is not a good mentality and will often backfire on an applicant (one of the toughest things about admissions for admissions officers is that soooo many applicants look the same).
Instead, students should work on developing their interests and passions. In the admissions process, it is more important to be authentic and interesting than having simply “achieved.” Explore your interests and test your assumptions through activities and projects that reflect real interest and passion.
2) Academically, you should be pushing yourself as much as possible:
Generally, there are three aspects of your academic schedule that you should take into account:
Depth: Continue to take subjects beyond the minimal requirements. Even if you don’t have to take another science course, you should continue to take science for all four years.
Breadth: If possible, you should take four years of all of the core academic subjects (English, math, science, social science, and foreign language).
Rigor: You should take the most challenging classes that you can handle. Obviously, it is not a great situation if you are getting multiple Cs or staying up all night to finish your homework and stressed all the time. However, an intellectual workout is never a bad thing.
3) Develop meaningful relationships with teachers:
While I may not remember all of the details of the War of 1812, I certainly remember my 8th grade teacher (thank you, Mr. Aronis) and the impact that he had on my education. Remember, teachers can be fantastic resources and mentors! Not only will you do better in your classes, but your teachers will get to know you better (which is key for when they write your recommendations). As someone who has written many students recommendations, the easiest recommendations to write were for the students I knew well. When I knew a student, I was inspired me to write a more authentic recommendation as opposed to rehashing the student’s resume.
4) Keep an open mind:
You will probably change quite a bit in the next few years. Your interests, preferences, friendships, and goals may all change (or at least some of them). The admissions process is really about your transition into adulthood, so the decisions that you make now will matter down the line. In this vein, college is not the only end-goal to the admissions process. Rather, a meaningful and purpose-driven life is (which college can certainly play a role in creating), so keep that in mind as you continue to mature throughout high school.
Be sure to check out other articles on the Scholarships360 Experts Blog as you continue to navigate your admissions journey!