Core Courses GPA (in Math, English, Science, Social Studies) is what matters more -- not getting an A in music or PE is less damaging, but a B in a core course will be worrisome (a C will be very harmful) if applying to the Ivies.
Safe to assume 99% of Ivy League students do not have a single C in their high school transcripts.
Take the most challenging courses available - must take Math, English, Science, Social Studies and (same) Foreign Language EVERY YEAR in high school.
Be realistic with AP courses - ideally, it would be best to get an A on the tough AP course.
But if not possible, then it is better to take the course that can get you the A.
Example: Lehigh requires AP Calculus to apply to their engineering program, and Wharton highly recommends AP Calculus BC.
College academics require critical reasoning in written works.
To prepare for class discussions and writing assignments in college, it is absolutely necessary to be able to read with discipline and analyze with insight.
College “homework” is 99% reading and there is a TREMENDOUS amount of reading every night.
CONCLUSION: whatever you want to study, CRITICAL REASONING through reading and writing is always the key to prepare for and to do well in college (and in your job too!).
Critical Reasoning also applies to math and science - beyond solving a problem to communicating a solution.
Colleges are more impressed with 760 SAT score in Critical Reading than 800 in Math.
Must begin developing large vocab bank to do well in SAT Critical Reading.
Continue to fully engage in challenging course load.
Reading and writing skills must show a dramatic improvement after first year of high school - in particular, cannot afford to still have middle school mistakes and habits in writing.
Begin to spend “serious time” to think about and reflect on your academic interests.
Many applicants to top colleges have excellent grades but have poor delivery and articulation of their academic passion and intellectual curiosity - book smart but not deep thinkers.
PSAT - first “real” standardized test in October
Take first run SAT I in May (can use Winter and Spring vacations for SAT prep)
Get TWO (Math+Humanities or Science+Science) SAT II Subject Test out of the way in June.
Top colleges do not see any excuse for not doing well in SAT II Subject Test
Most challenging course load possible - junior year academic performance gets the MOST scrutiny from colleges.
Doing well academically is a given but just being book smart is NEVER enough.
Must demonstrate INTELLECTUAL DEPTH AND CURIOSITY to stand out among the thousands of other straight-A students in the top college applicant pools.
Think deeply about how you can articulate and demonstrate intellectual depth and curiosity plus academic motivations in your essays and interview - must show LOVE OF LEARNING.
PASSION and INITIATIVE in both academics and activities.
Begin having a firmer sense of what you want to study in college - top colleges used to look for well-rounded STUDENTS but now they seek to put together a well-rounded CLASS.
SAT I in October, November, December (Fall Semester) and January, May and June (Spring semester).
Best to get SAT I out of the way at the latest by January so you can focus on final exams and AP in May and leave June test date for SAT I retake if needed or other SAT II Subject Test(s).
Full time devotion to school work and application - there should be no more worries about testing.
Getting higher GPA in senior year 1st semester than junior year will be the BEST bonus.
Writing skills must now be exceptional and show that you are a deep thinker.
Essays that demonstrate passion via an ACADEMIC THEME and SCHOLARLY FOCUS are most impressive - choosing the right topic is crucial.
Essay with good message delivery and polished writing skills BUT on a mundane and trivial topic will not have much impact.
Interviews are one of only two ways (the other is the essay) which you can directly control for SHOWING what you are all about as a person - too many applicants do interviews unprepared and most are just TELLING things as a student that are nothing new from what’s already in the application.
Colleges are interested in finding out about your character through the interview to see if you FIT with the college community.
SAT prep does help if you start early and carry through over extended period.
Definition of CRITICAL (in “critical” thinking) = SKILLFUL JUDGEMENT like any other skill, it can be learned and improved with practice.
Achievements alone no longer enough.
Being book smart with great activities and lots of awards is never enough.
Need strategy and marketing to differentiate – goal is to be COMPELLING.
What truly differentiates, and lacking in many applicants, is intellectual depth & curiosity.
Must show passion and initiative in both academics and activities - colleges know what’s real and what are fillers, they are experts at identifying truthful passion.
Make the habit of seeing teachers and asking questions even after school - don’t go them to be a baby about your quiz/exam score.
Too many students do not have a convincing reason for applying to the colleges they choose - they don’t really know the reasons for applying because they don’t know enough about the colleges.
Vocab Bank building
School activity/club - get involved and do what you enjoy
Reading on your own (in addition to school reading assignments)
Consider SAT Subject Test in World History if confident
Remain active in school activities - follow and develop your passion
PSAT in October
Begin thinking about your academic interests - what are you curious about? what do you think you want to study in college?
AP Test in May
Consider SAT I in May
SAT Subject Test in June
Keep in mind colleges look for intellectual depth and curiosity - show love of learning
Think about academic area(s) of interest for study in college
Show passion and joy in both academics and activities
Remain active in school activities and also hold leadership positions in activity clubs
PSAT in October
SAT I in October
SAT I in January if necessary - this should be the final test date for SAT I so that you can dedicate your focus on your school work (good grades) for the rest of high school
Keep in close contact with college counselor
AP Tests in May
SAT Subject Test(s) in June
Short list college choices
Consider college visits
Begin college application essay drafts
Full-time devotion to school work and college application
Getting higher GPA in senior year 1st Semester than junior year is the best bonus to show colleges
Writing ability by now must be exceptional and show that you are a deep thinker
Serious time and thought devoted in completing application essays
Know the colleges you are applying to and know them well - research specific programs that interests you, must have very strong and convincing reasons why you are applying to the colleges
Early Decision/Action deadline November 1
ED/EA reply by mid-December
Regular Decision deadline January 1 (this should be the deadline for all other colleges, even those with rolling or late deadlines)
Prepare for college interviews
Decision from colleges starting in mid-March ~ April 1
Final decision and college selection by May 1 (send deposit)
|Grade 9||Grade 10||Grade 11||Grade 12|
|August||MAIN essay development|
|September||WHY essay and Supplement essays|
|December||ED / EA
|January||SAT I||Regular Decision
Early Decision II
|April||I GOT IN!!!|
|Short-list college choices AP Exam||Decide where to go AP Exam|
|June||Summer Activity or Summer Camp||SAT Subject Test(Math+Humanities or Science+Science) Summer Activity or Summer Camp||SAT Subject Test(2 other subjects) College Visit Summer Activity or Summer Camp Begin MAIN essay and WHY essay drafts||RELAX
|July||Summer Activity or Summer Camp||Summer Activity or Summer Camp||College Visit
or Summer Camp
Work on MAIN+WHY
|TRAVEL AND SEE THE WORLD|
Many well-heeled and well-intentioned parents are convinced that it would benefit their children to talk to someone who could arrange an unusual or prestigious internship for summer. Their goal is to pull in a favor or two to acquire fancy internships for their kids. Colleges are not stupid and can usually figure out that someone pulled a string - otherwise, how could a normal 16-year-old with virtually no qualifications end up working in a high-profile law firm or an investment bank? In fact, having this kind of internship often backfires because colleges then hold it against the student because he/she obviously couldn't find his/her own job or meaningful experience without adult help.