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Preparation 101

We all know the story: prepare for college. But, we asked the more pertinent question: HOW?

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The all-familiar piles of college application mail

The all-familiar piles of college application mail

Nate Stetson

Nate Stetson

The all-familiar piles of college application mail

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There are many words that have the ability to strike the fear into the heart of the average high school student. Test. Grade. Homework. Group Project.

College.

The looming threat of college is motivation for students to load up on the AP and Honors classes and to do activities that students wouldn’t normally do if it didn’t look good on a college application. Apparently being well-rounded means students have to take part in every club your school is offering and drowning yourself in six hours of homework every night.

But do colleges really care about how many APs and Honors you take? Do you have to get a near-perfect score on your SAT to even be considered for any college?

For example, Harvard University’s average GPA is a 4.1, meaning you have to get mostly A’s in higher level honors or AP classes. Even with this GPA, a 2250 SAT score, and 34 on your ACT you still have a 6% chance of getting into the university. Obviously, the school is highly competitive. In contrast, Edinboro University has a 99% acceptance rate with an average GPA of 3.2, and an average SAT score of 1381. So what exactly do you need to get into a top-tier university?

“I think in order to get into college you need to be well-rounded. Good grades in honors or AP science and math classes, a lot of activities, things like that will really help you out,” says sophomore Kyle Davies, who takes mostly honors classes.

According to sophomore Josie Barton, “Good test scores can help your chances into getting into a better college.”

Patrick Upton, who balances both morning swimming practices and afternoon ones, adds, “Extracurriculars involving your interests really help you stand out.”

Another extracurricular that could make you stand out to a better school is your abilities in sports.

Harvard senior Scott Evans is in his final year of playing football for the university. In high school, he was the valedictorian of Brashear High School and did not have a single grade lower than an A on his report card through out his high school years,

“My advice for anyone is to just work hard at whatever you do. If math is your thing, pursue that. If a certain sport is your thing, whatever it is, just work as hard as you can at that and you will get something out of it in regards to college.”

However, over 80% of Harvard students play some sort of sport, whether it be an official team or a club. On top of the sport in their resume, they also most likely fit into the average range or above of test scores and GPAs.

In short, many random clubs and activities may help you get into an elite college, but focusing on a few things or even a single thing in a field students are very good at would be more effective. Yes, students do need good grades, and yes, volunteering and clubs may help you out as well, but don’t overwhelm yourself with classes and clubs you hate when you could be getting better at something you are passionate about. Many schools give students plenty of opportunities to experiment with things they possibly want to do in life, like North Allegheny’s Beattie Tech. Beattie gives students half a day of regular classes, with the other half being focused on things like cosmetology, culinary, mechanics, veterinary services, and more.

 

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Preparation 101