Navigating the College Whirlwind

January 2021

College is a very daunting concept for many teens, most notably those in high school. The college selection process is a whirlwind of tests, grades, extracurriculars, and more. These various commitments have the ability to overwhelm many students. However, there are a few things to focus on in order to succeed throughout high school, and improve your chances at getting into a school that is a great fit for you. First, there are many different terms used in the college process that may be unfamiliar to students. There are three types of ways that you can apply to college: Early Decision, Early Action, and Regular Decision. Early Decision is the most binding of the three options. When applying Early Decision, if accepted there is a binding agreement between a student and the college. In this case the student must withdraw any applications to other colleges. Early Action is like Early Decision, but it is nonbinding. However, Early Action is sometimes just a numbers game: colleges will accept a certain number of Early Action applications simply based on if they have test scores and GPAs that colleges are looking for. Regular Decision is simply the normal application, submitted at the normal deadline.

One current senior recommends staying vigilant throughout high school, as your cumulative GPA will be taken from all four years. A consistently good GPA will show colleges that a student has the capability to work hard all the time. Another piece of advice is like all large assignments throughout high school, give yourself enough time to complete the application process. Consider starting the college applications during the summer after junior year. This way, you are able to revise and ensure that your multiple applications are perfect before sending them in to be scrutinized by
admissions officials. Another former high school student recommends students not to take anything for granted. Anyone can bomb a test, and it is very important to ensure that you remain on top of all of your assignments and, like the previous student mentioned, don’t become complacent simply because you are getting good grades. If you begin to coast on your past grades, you may lose focus on important assignments coming up.

Finally, the main point that many students made was not to become extremely stressed. Every school is a great place to study, whether it is a super prestigious school such as Harvard or Yale, or even a state community college. One of the hardest things about the college process is finding a good school for you and your interests. Many students fail to look past the big names and the prestigious awards offered by many top-tier colleges, when
the best place for them could be right in front of their noses.