Extracurricular/Award/Summer Program Advice

Hi all! I am looking for advice regarding my extracurriculars/awards/summer programs because I feel that that is my weakest area. I’m in my sophomore year, and will be doing Full IB next year.

Currently, I am:

  • a member of my school’s dance team, with potential for leadership either this upcoming year or next
  • founder & president of local youth council
  • Youth Rotary Club Officer
  • Volunteer with the local business association
  • Volunteer & Sunday School teacher at local church
  • ASB coordinator
  • DECA member (qualified for State but did not place this year)
  • National Honor Society member
  • Potential to be on Youth Legislative Advisory Council for my state (applied, haven’t heard back yet)

As far as Awards, I’m totally lost on how I would get those. The only ones I currently have are Volunteer of the Quarter for the biz association, NHS, and Honor Roll…

For reference, I want to major in either Business, Econ or Political Science. My top/reach schools are Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Notre Dame, Tulane, Boston College and Vanderbilt.

I’d love any feedback/ideas regarding any of these areas!

Summer of Sophomore year is a great time to find out about what you’re interested in studying in the future. Interested in Art History? volunteer at a Museum, interested in Poly Sci get involved in local politics…

Secondly do some prep work for SAT/ACT raising your SAT score by 50 points will do more for you than some random award.

Lastly, start a spreadsheet of potential schools that are aligned to what you want to study and any other interest you have. Don’t be afraid to let this list get up to 50 or even 100 plus schools, and don’t rely on published rankings think specifically about criteria that is important to you and to your intended career path. As you do are research and potentially go on some visits you will find reasons to add and take colleges off your list. Then hopefully as you get to your senior year, you will have a nice list of 10-20 schools that are reaches, good fits and safeties that you like.

You aren’t looking for awards, you are looking to achieve stuff. Besides, almost nobody has awards in Freshman year or even sophomore.

Depending on how many hours each take, what you are doing is plenty. There is absolutely no advantage in doing 20 ECs. If these are the activities which interest you, throw yourself into these activities.

My kid danced (dance lessons and school dance team), led the LGBTQ group, taught in her Sunday School, and engaged in some serious political activism, none of which was part of any school club or official organization (led student walkouts and stuff such as that). That’s it. She’s very happy where she is.

Here is the most important advice I can give you: stop thinking “which colleges should I apply to?”, and start thinking “what do I want to study?” and “what sort of college experience would I like?”

I’ll be fully honest with you - you will almost certainly not be attending Yale, Princeton, or Dartmouth. Everybody and their younger cousin is applying to those colleges, and they are accepting maybe 2% of the non-hooked applicants.

So do not let the tiny chance that you will be admitted to these colleges determine your path in high school.

Not sure, especially if they are still test optional in 2023. Besides, it is not about raising the score, but they would like to see an SAT of over 1450, preferable over 1500. But gain, it may be a moot point.

This is very good advice.

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The 2023 cycle will be very interesting, we are seeing some schools start to declare they will be test optional through 2023 including (Notre Dame, Penn State, Vassar, UCs). I don’t believe any of the Ivys have extended it yet. Will be interesting to see what the trends are from both the Schools and the students. For schools like Penn State it makes sense, they’ve been able to really monetize the admission process that more apps means more $$. And potentially an increase in branch campuses. But what about the T20 schools? Would they prefer to be test optional or not?