GPA Matters MOST
by Cole Werner
Did you know that 78% of high school seniors do not get accepted to their first choice for college? As schools get harder and harder to get into, this number is bound to be on the increase. Unfortunately, I was also included in this percentage, but I am also very satisfied with my other options and choices for my future college.
The most important thing that you have to remember is that life will go on. Not getting accepted into your first choice college is not the end of the world; there are plenty of other options out there that are probably better for you anyway.
However, to succeed one must strive to be the best they can be, and that starts by getting into the college that you want to go to.
The one most important item to concentrate on to get into the top colleges is your GPA. Despite what your counselor or what the colleges say, having a high GPA that is on par or higher than the school’s average is key. Make sure you take classes that you are interested in during high school and show that your schedule is increasing in rigor, but make sure you are positive that you will get A’s in these classes. The one school that I wanted to go to, but did not get into, said that this was the case for me when I followed up asking why I did not get accepted there. The B I received in an AP class hurt me more than actually taking the harder AP class. Also, check if your high school inflates your GPA by giving it a ‘bump’ when you take Honors classes or AP classes. You have to be aware that other schools possibly may give larger “bumps” to students’ GPAs, so weigh the pros and cons of taking Honors or AP classes before
you go in blind and take them.
Second, make sure that your test score is high enough for the college. Check college search websites like naviance.com and cappex.com and see how your recent scores compare. No matter what, you want your score to be at or above the majority of students getting accepted into the college. Being borderline makes your chances very slim, despite what the college says about other factors coming into play. Just like playing a sport, the key to getting a high score on the SAT or ACT is practice, practice, and more practice. I cannot tell you how many practice ACT tests I took before taking the ACT a second time after I took it the first time as a test run. After the first ACT test, I was able to pinpoint where my faults and weaknesses were, and through multiple practice tests I was able to improve my score tremendously.
All of these items take time to conquer and changes will not happen overnight. The quicker you come to terms with this, the better. Colleges will not take a student that they think just tried their best to get into said college. They want to see a student that will excel past the expectations of their college, and starting on the right foot in your high school career with your GPA and test scores is a very good start. College admissions is a crazy time, and I can guarantee you that once it’s all over, you will be satisfied, but by doing the best you can with the information outlined above, you will be on your way.
Thanks Cole for sharing your experience why GPA matters most. Yes, for many schools it does, and you are correct that if you take an AP or honors class, they expect you to get an A in it. Best of luck to you.
Two Important Pieces Of Advice For Applying To College
by Daniel Okuniewicz
(Newton, New Hampshire, USA)
The college applications process can seem really convoluted and confusing. I went through the application process two years ago, and I have to say I was lucky enough to have been accepted into a school I really wanted to go to. There are two major things I want to cover: competition and timing.
The application process for a really competitive school is going to be slightly different from one that is not so competitive. I will draw from my experience applying to MIT (I didn't get accepted). Standardized test scores were a big factor—despite what MIT will tell you about how standardized tests aren't everything, to be brutally honest, standardized test scores do carry a lot of weight or else they wouldn't ask for them. MIT required me to submit SAT/ACT scores (in my case, ACT) as well as specific SAT subject tests. Next, competitive schools like MIT usually have their own application form, usually online, so no common app for these schools. And finally, many of them will require you to schedule an in-person interview. The most important thing to keep in mind, though, is that you should apply to these schools just for the heck of it and don't be too disappointed if you aren't accepted. Keep in mind that these schools are so competitive that they can't even accept everyone who is qualified! My most important advice here is to apply to a variety of schools with different levels of competition. If you apply to Ivy-Leagues only and don't get accepted to any of them, then you'll have to wait a long time to apply again. Apply to one or two safety schools that you know for sure you'll be accepted to.
When should you start applying for school? If you can afford to, immediately is the safest bet. Schools will tell you that the time you apply at doesn't affect your chances of being accepted, but let's be honest, it probably has a small effect. However, there is one very practical reason to apply early, and that is to give you plenty of time to (1) decide which school you want to go to and (2) apply for financial aid! The earlier you apply, the earlier you get accepted, and the earlier you get accepted and make a decision, the more time you can devote to applying for scholarships and grants. And lastly, getting accepted to a great school early on gives you a lot more time to brag and show off your accomplishments—or at the very least have your family do the bragging and showing off for you.
The one thing to take away is this: apply early and apply to many. The number one reason is for the safety net that both of these provide you—one with the safety net of having a school to go to, and the other is the safety net of being able to pay for school. Remember these two things and you can accomplish your goals.
Thanks Daniel for sharing your advice and story. It is very good advice to apply to 1 or 2 safety net schools, as highly competitive schools must turn down thousands of qualified applicants each year. Best of luck to you.