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09/04/2019

How will colleges look at this..?

QUESTION
How will colleges look at this..?
I’m a freshman, and I haven’t done an sports this year. My GPA is a 4.0 and I rank number 14 in my class (freshman) … I’ve been in 2 councils and 1 club this year. If I do some sports consistently through soph-jun-senior year, and take 7 AP classes, do you think I have a chance in getting into an Ivy League school? Is it okay that I didn’t do many extra-curricular activities freshman year? And I plan to do Yearbook (I did it in middle school), for 2 years because that’s the only amount of time I can afford on my schedule. Is two years enough? The competition is really vigorous, and I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m very nervous. Thanks so much for reviewing/answering my question! 🙂

ANSWER
A 4.0 or a 14 class rank doesn’t really mean anything to me, because you didn’t tell me the scale, but from the limited information, that sounds really good. Keep in mind, however, that you’re just a freshman. GPA and class ranking will definitely and significantly change, so keep working hard and don’t let anything slip.

It’s okay that you didn’t do that much extra-curriculars this year, as long as you make up for it next year. Try to be well rounded. Find a sport you like, join some clubs, definitely get a lot of community service in, win titles in some competitions, hoard some awards, and find some leadership positions (ex: running for office in a school club, organizing a project at your local church, etc). Leadership is especially important.

You’ll want a lot of activities, but make sure they are meaningful. Find something you’re really passionate about, because you’ll be able to write about it in an essay or talk about it during the interview. Don’t just semi-participant in a whole bunch of activities so you can slap it on your resume, because colleges can see right through that. Keep a running list of what you did, when you did it, for how long, and what you got out of it. When you write a resume senior year, it’s really hard to remember what you did and when you did it.

Standardized tests are very important as well. Take a PSAT/SAT prep course (your school might have one, or you can just take an SAT prep course if you can’t find one) summer after your sophomore year, because becoming a finalist or a semi-finalist on the PSAT will be a definite plus.

The PSAT and the SAT are alike enough that you probably wouldn’t need another prep course exclusively for the SAT (although if you take a course at your school, you might want to take one outside as well, because school prep courses just aren’t the greatest) SAT can be pretty heavy on vocabulary and it will definitely be worth the energy to memorize a couple hundred most commonly used words on the SAT. There are lists available online and in prep books.

Take the SAT starting second semester junior year and plan to take it several times throughout that semester and even the beginning of fall semester senior year, if you have to. Take the ACT several times during that time as well, because some people do better on that test and some schools will take that score over your SAT. Make sure to take both tests several times, and make sure to take those prep courses, because both will improve your score significantly. You can check on collegeboard the scores you’re going to need for each individual school, but expect all the schools to have an average SAT of at least 2000.

Since you are shooting for ivy league schools, you will also have to take SAT subject tests. Pick your three best subjects and study and take SAT II tests for those your junior year.

It’s good that you plan to take AP classes. Colleges like the fact that you challenge yourself.

I know that’s a lot of stuff to absorb, much less accomplish, but hey, you wanted an ivy league school, and they don’t take anything less than the best.