10 Tips When Thinking about Colleges
By Shanice, age 15, South Africa
Last night, I downloaded the application form for the college I want to go to and was shocked that having a good portfolio* wasn't even mentioned on the form. They cared about extracurricular activities and other things that I had NO experience in. I did some searching and realised that all colleges were more or less looking for the same thing. So here are a few tips to ensure that you are ready when it's your turn to fill out the intimidating form.
* Editor's Note: Shanice explained that she is referring to a writing portfolio to show off her work.
1. Be a Leader. Leadership skills aren't something everyone is born with. But it is something that you can learn. Take up a position as prefect, student body or class president, or other officer. It looks good on your college application and you'll build confidence.
2. All the Independent Women. College is the one time when you can escape your parents and have a good reason for it. But living away from home requires independence ... and doing your own cooking and cleaning.
3. Cost. In today's world, everything is expensive and college is no exception. Make sure that the school you're planning on attending is affordable. You don't want to risk dishing out thousands only to find out that you're unhappy with the place you've chosen.
4. Get Involved. As I mentioned above, colleges actually care about what goes on outside the classroom. Try joining a few clubs and even a few sporting teams. Colleges like well-rounded applications.
5. Stand Out. Choose one thing (or even two small things) that make you different from the average applicant, and emphasise on that. It will show that you're unique and will add variety to the college.
6. Expand Your Interests. Art and travel are two things that I've been interested in, and two things that I've never gotten to fully experience and appreciate. Try out new stuff - this helps you to stand out, as I mentioned previously.
7. Make Friends with Your Teachers. Believe it or not, they aren't all evil, fire-breathing monsters determined to give you bad marks and fail you. Befriending your teachers helps you to know them better, get a better letter of recommendation from them, and possibly (if you do a really good job) gain a few extra marks.
8. Keep Your Marks Up. Sadly, even with all the extracurriculars and uniqueness, your marks still do matter. Keep your marks up as high as possible. It's preferable that you take AP classes, but I'm sure that is obvious.
9. Get a Job. A job implies responsibility and that you're a hard worker, and it helps you gain extra cash.
10. Do Something with Your Summer. Colleges love when you do something with your holiday, instead of just sitting around at home. Volunteer at a shelter or intern somewhere. This helps you to avoid boredom and to do something constructive.
So those are my tips for getting into the college of your dreams. And remember to apply to several colleges, so even if you don't get into the college of your dreams you'll still have somewhere to go. Good luck. Now, go fill out those application forms!