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My Advice to the High School Class of 2015

KeDIX1414KeDIX1414 Registered User Posts: 380 Member
I always found advice threads from admitted students to be helpful, so I have decided to make one for the high school class of 2015 (or any other high school student). These tips are mostly geared towards students interested in applying to very selective colleges, but I think that they can be of use to everyone.

1. Limit the number of reach schools on your list!

I personally think that you should limit the number of schools you apply to with acceptance rates under 15%. I know that some people apply to all eight ivies hoping that they will get into at least one. I understand where these people are coming from, but I do not think that this is a good strategy for a few reasons. 1) There is no way you are in love with all eight ivies. They have distinct personalities. 2) Think of the number of essays you will have to write. It is better to write three good essays than 10 mediocre ones. 3) Unless you are a transcendent student (by ivy league standards), chances are that you could end your senior year with many rejections. That is just disheartening.

As for me, I applied to five reach schools. Four were ivies. I was accepted to two of my reach schools and rejected by the other three. I do not think that five reach schools is a terrible number, but I would not do it again. I only applied to two of the ivies because of their prestigious names. I spent a lot of time on the applications, and then I was rejected in March! It just is not worth it. I would recommend 1-3 reach schools that you LOVE.

2. Craft your college application list as if the reach schools did not exist.

This is something I did, and I would recommend this tip to everyone. Select your 1-3 reach schools, and then forget about them. Assume that you will be rejected. Next, decide on your match and safety schools as if the reach schools don't exist. If you implement this strategy, you will be more likely to select match and safety schools you actually like instead of just settling.

3. Do not listen to the people who say you are an automatic admit to every school.

This tip is mostly for URMs (underrepresented minorities), legacies, first generation students, and students from poor backgrounds. People will tell you that you will DEFINITELY get into [insert name of prestigious school] because people like you are in demand, sometimes get in with lower grades and SATs, and provide diversity. Do not believe these people. I will not deny that some groups of students do have an advantage, but nothing is guaranteed. I am a URM with three ivy rejection letters. People told me that since I am a high achieving URM, I could get in anywhere. This just isn't true. I know of other students with hooks who were rejected as well.

4. Know what you want, and do not compromise.

Has your dream been to live in a city? Apply to city schools! Have you always wanted to be an engineer? Apply to schools with highly ranking engineering programs! Is a small environment a must for you? Then apply to small LACs, and forget about the big universities.

Do not compromise when you apply to schools. Figure out what you want, and continue searching until you find it. You should not end up in a situation where only your dream school has the qualities you are looking for. Every school should. Seriously, do not compromise. Keep looking until you find schools that you absolutely love.

5. Do not let one bad visit deter you from applying.

Just because your tour guide sounded elitist or the admissions officer gave a bad presentation does not mean that you will not love the school. Do not start to hate a school because of one person you were not fond of. If you live nearby, visit the school again. (I did this once, and I ended up applying in the end.) If not, spend time on the website and look up reviews about the school online. Do not simply rely on your first impression.

6. Read a book about admission to selective colleges.

They have good tips that you might not have thought of.

7. Do not be upset about a lukewarm interview.

I thought that one admissions officer disliked me, but she actually loved me! I found out from faculty members that she advocated for me often during the process.

8. Do not retake standardized tests a million times.

If you are in the right range, do not retake the test. This is just my personal advice. Yes, a 2400 is better than a 2200, but don't stress yourself out about the testing so much. Do not let it consume you because testing is no fun.

9. Rejoice in every acceptance.

Rejoice in every acceptance because you don't know what is coming next. Your match and safety schools will probably notify you before your reaches. When the first acceptances start rolling in, start to celebrate. You got into college! Always remember that what you consider to be a match or a safety might be someone else's dream school.

10. This is the most important tip. Getting into an ivy will not change your life!

At the end of the college admissions process, I did get into one ivy league school. While receiving my fat envelope was one of the most exciting moments of my life, it has not changed me. I am still the same person I was before I received the envelope. I am not smarter or more talented. By this point, the initial excitement has started to wear off. I am so busy studying that I do not have time to think about college 24/7. Getting into a top college/university will NOT change your life.You will be fine either way.



Phew! Those were my top ten tips! Best of luck, and may the odds be forever in your favor! :D :D :D
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Replies to: My Advice to the High School Class of 2015

  • suzy100suzy100 Registered User Posts: 5,605 Senior Member
    OP, thank you for taking the time to write this. I have a D15 and I will share this with her. Very sound advice. (We've already had the talk about financial limitations.)
  • annas96annas96 Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    I would agree with the ignore your reach schools tip. I really wanted to go to an LAC. Well as it turns out all of the LACs I applied to were reaches and I got rejected or wait listed to all of them. I would also say that price should be a big factor in applying, not just choosing. I was accepted to around 7 schools, but about 4 of those were way out of my price range, so I really only had a choice between 3 schools. Predict what you are going to get in financial aid, and if you don't think you'll be able to afford it, don't apply.
  • Buggie111Buggie111 Registered User Posts: 582 Member
    How many schools did you apply to in all?
  • ccco2018ccco2018 Registered User Posts: 636 Member
    What a great post. Thanks for sharing you experience, I am sure many will benefit from this.
  • billcshobillcsho Registered User Posts: 18,405 Senior Member
    Plan early.
    Finish taking SAT/ACT by the end of junior so you can work on the school list, collect school information, visit campus, start writing essays and fill the forms over the Summer.
    Go through the NPC of all schools on the list and eliminate the financial impossible ones.
    Secure at least a couple teachers for recommendation before summer and get back to them when school resume.
    Apply early if possible.
  • gman333gman333 Registered User Posts: 247 Junior Member
    The third one is huge. I was told I was for sure for a couple and I was rejected to them. It was pretty devastating.
  • luc425luc425 Registered User Posts: 128 Junior Member
    I agree, aim high, but be realistic. Here are the list of schools I applied to:

    Cornell – Rejected (Transfer Option)
    UC Berkeley – Rejected
    Johns Hopkins – Rejected

    UCLA – Rejected
    USC – Rejected

    UCSD – Accepted
    UCSB – Accepted
    Colorado School of Mines – Accepted (free app)
    Marquette – Accepted (free app)
    St. Johns – Accepted (free app)
    Drexel – Accepted (free app)

    Even with stellar stats, the acceptance game has no guarantees. My best friend was accepted to UC Berkeley and USC, while being rejected by UCSD. Another of my close friends was accepted to Stanford, but wait listed at UC Berkeley. The OP is correct in saying "Limit the number of reach schools on your list!" Yes apply to a few reach schools, but it is unwise to apply to all eight ivies with the hopes of getting into one. It is both a waste of money, and a lot of time that could be used maintaining high grades during senior year.

    That being said, "Know what you want, and do not compromise," and "Rejoice in every acceptance." Yes, it hurts to be turned down from your dream school, but maybe it wasn't a good fit, or it just wasn't meant to be. Be happy that you can even go to college, a lot of people don't get that opportunity. You can also always try again if you really want. I ended up pursuing the Transfer Option Cornell gave me and I will be attending there next fall. There is also graduate school. The world provides many options, you just have to look for them and keep them open. Don't shut doors until you have the ability to do so.
  • tinyonetinyone Registered User Posts: 143 Junior Member
    I'm a junior right now and gotta say this post really helped. Thanks to everyone for sharing, I'll take this into consideration as I get deeper into choosing all of the schools I apply to.
  • 1203southview1203southview Registered User Posts: 464 Member
    Thanks for posting; this is so helpful.

    While I respect your opinion about limiting the reaches, I am not fully on board with that. What if the student just wants a great education with an outstanding peer group? All of the highly selective schools we've visited had that in common and that is all my son cares about. He says he does not care where it is, what size, etc. As an example, he loved Columbia, MIT and Hopkins. Others may say that those are all quite different but to him, he sees the similarities of a stimulating academic environment with a peer group he likes. I've also seen students get into some schools and not into others in a way that is not predictable. Costs of applying is of no consideration so we are just limited by how many great applications he has the energy to write.
  • fairyfantasyfairyfantasy Registered User Posts: 384 Member
    Just wondering...how do you demonstrate interest in colleges? How do they know that you are interested? There are a lot of schools that I don't really have the time or money to visit over the summer, such as Harvard. I emailed their admission office once...and signed up for their newsletters. Does that count as "show interest"?
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