The Freshman’s Guide to High School and College
Sofie Alexander | On 10, Feb 2019
Freshman reader, you probably hate the position you are in.
Being the youngest and smallest in the school, you can enjoy having moved up from middle school, yet you still have three years left until you start your real life.
Well, I am here to tell you that I would rather be in your place.
You have no idea the stress that an average high school senior goes through. Don’t get me wrong, it is the best year of high school, but the amount of work that goes into getting accepted to college is enough to push anyone to their limits. The essays, the FAFSA, the fees, the hair pulling: it’s all a sad, unenviable reality to face.
The good news is that there is an easier way to get all this done. Take it from someone who is going through it now–the college application process and high school in general CAN be horrendous, but they do not have to be. Here are some tips. Take note! It’s never too early to start prepping.
The common application is the best way to apply to college. If the college of your choice is on the common app, apply there. DO NOT APPLY THROUGH THE SCHOOL IF YOU HAVE THE CHOICE! It is such a hassle to apply through each individual school because they make you write different essays and they ask a ton of different questions that nobody needs to answer.
Apply as early as possible:
Waiting until the deadline is the worst thing you can do. Apply to college as early as possible. You will find out their decision a lot earlier, and your admissions counselor will certainly appreciate it.
Community service is important:
When you are an active part in the community, colleges take an interest in you. They see that you care more about other people than yourself, and in our narcissistic, selfie-obsessed generation, that makes you special.
Your grades aren’t enough:
You have great grades. Congrats! But so do the other 20,000 students who applied to the school. You need other things to set you apart: community service, extracurricular activities, sports, clubs, and more. Colleges like well-rounded students. Diversity springs from more than just race. A diverse student is someone who does anything and everything.
However, your grades are still important:
Do not slack off. It will ruin your chances of getting into your top school. If you want to push a homework back, don’t. What’s the point of getting a lesser grade or a zero for something as simple as a homework? Even as seniors, we aren’t allowed to slack off because our colleges have the right to rescind acceptances, a fate worse than not being accepted to begin with.
It is never too early to study for your ACT or SAT:
It is a sad reality that these tests are important. They do not measure your intelligence, just your ability to take a test. When you apply to an Ivy League, you need a high test score.
Some schools do not need test scores:
If you have below-average test scores or average test scores (like me), take solace in knowing there are some schools that do not need your scores. The test-optional schools become a saving grace for many students. They consider you more as a person and a student rather than a number.
Do not be scared to apply to a school:
Even if you are not in their test score or GPA range, you still may have a chance of getting in. Schools always look for something to set students apart from the rest of the crowd, and if you are one of those students you should at least try.
Don’t get your hopes up:
It’s a sad thing to say, but its true. You can’t expect that you’ll get into just any school. There might be an unknown reason you don’t get into a school, even one that seemed well within your range. It’s best to be optimistic yet prepared for whatever might come up.
You are not special:
Despite what your mother and father say, there is always going to be someone who does more than you. There is always going to be someone who has a harder life than you. People will take pity on you, but there is someone who deserves it more and will get more. This sounds mean and unfair, but take heart in knowing tons of high school seniors across the world are going through the same thing that you are.
Do not get attached to a school:
Everyone has a dream school, and that school is usually a reach school. That means it’s difficult to get in. So you cannot, and I mean CANNOT, get attached. If you do not get into the school of your dreams, then it wasn’t for you. There is a reason you didn’t get in. You move on and go to the school that wants you and you want to attend.
You will get confused easily if you are not organized. Some colleges make you write extra essays or respond to extra questions, and if you are not organized, you run the risk of missing your deadlines for applications, sending essays to the wrong schools, or forwarding test scores to schools you do not need to send them to. This may sound insane, but spreadsheets are the way to go.
Do not stretch yourself too thin:
You cannot apply to too many colleges. Even if you’re trying to cast a large net, you should cap yourself at ten. Any more than that that and you can become very confused and flustered. You have to choose and choose wisely.
There is always a way to pay for college:
There are a million scholarships you can apply to. There are multiple websites, such as carrpex and scholarships.com. If a school does not give you enough money or enough financial aid, there are other scholarships available.
The price you see isn’t real:
The big scary numbers on Google may not be the real tuition prices. Those are the maximum amount a school will make you pay. The reality is that you might not live on campus, you might not need a meal plan, or you might get a scholarship or financial aid. There are so many things that factor into the overall cost, but the reality is that it may not be as expensive as you feared.
What you just read is scary, I know. But the fact is this will be a very exciting time in your life. The first letter you get saying you got into college will give you one of the best feelings in the world.
High school is just a chapter, not the entire book. So far, I have been accepted into four colleges: La Salle University, Florida International University, Eckerd College, and Manhattan College. My fear was that I was not going to get into college, and now I thankfully have four amazing options, plus I am waiting for five other schools: University of Utah, American University, The George Washington University, California Polytechnic State University of San Luis Obispo, and Pitzer College.
My journey isn’t over yet, but I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
So, freshman reader, enjoy high school, but take my advice into consideration. Before you know it, you will be in my position, wishing you were a freshman again.