College Advice from a Senior
By Shubhdip Kundlas
Volume 1 Issue 3
December 16, 2020
Original photo by Shubhdip Kundlas
Hello all rising freshman, sophomores, and juniors! My name is Shubhdip Kundlas and I am currently a senior here at North. I would like to give all of you advice on the college application process and to make sure you are prepared to the fullest extent. Applying to college can be extremely stressful, but remember one thing: it is only stressful if you allow it to be. If you make the necessary preparations and start on time, there will be a minimal amount of stress involved. That brings me to my first piece of advice: Sign up for SAT/ACT exams as soon as possible. With many test centers closing due to COVID-19 restrictions, many seniors, including me, had very limited opportunities to take these tests as many testing centers repeatedly closed and hindered our chances to achieve the score we wanted. Although we don’t know how the situation will be by the end of the year, don’t wait to find out. If you haven’t started to study for the test yet, don’t worry: it’s not too late! There’s still time to study and fully prepare for the next set of examinations that will start in March 2021. Many colleges have gone “test-optional” this year, but some of them have made it clear it would only be for current seniors. Will schools be test-optional next year as well? I don’t know if they will or not, but again - take it anyway because if you get a good test score, it will only help you. If you haven’t taken an SAT or ACT yet, there is no need to worry; instead, begin preparing as soon as you can.
My second piece of advice: stay motivated! Freshman and sophomores, join as many extracurriculars that work for you, and for Juniors that are not in any club or sport and have not been a part of any in the past, I advise you sign up for some clubs that you are interested in as many of them still accept new members. Remember, you are competing against other students, so you want to build a strong application that is unique to you and participating in extracurriculars is an essential to that. Also, apply to honor societies. If you meet their criteria, and you are accepted, they can also boost your application. To all freshman and sophomores: grades are very important for gaining admission to your dream school, but it isn’t just about your GPA. There are an array of factors like extracurriculars, essays, and teacher recommendations. Taking AP courses makes you stand out to colleges who will know your motivation to complete rigorous coursework. Juniors, we are almost at the halfway mark of this year, and although it won’t be easy to make a drastic change in your GPA, it can still be done. Considering that we have 3 marking periods left, by working hard and putting in your best effort, you can definitely improve your GPA. Again, there is still time for you to drastically improve your application! Join extracurriculars and work hard on your grades. Although it may seem that you can’t make a difference at this point, you 100% can. Just start from today. Join extracurriculars, work harder, and just be confident. Confidence and motivation are key to help your success in the college application process, and it all starts from this point on.
My third piece of advice: start early! Whether you are a freshman or junior, it is never too early to start preparing for college. Make a checklist consisting of tasks helping you prepare for college season including but not limited to: extracurriculars, grades, recommendation requests, scholarships and essays. Also, research your colleges! Make a list of colleges divided into three sections: reach schools (schools that will be difficult to get into but may have a chance), target schools (schools where you fall well within the range of their requirements and have a decent chance), and safe schools (schools that you have a high chance of getting into). Juniors, around May or June, think of teachers that you know might write you a stellar letter of recommendation and politely request it from them either face to face or by email (whichever option you are comfortable with) as it will give them an early notice and more time to write your letter. Research the schools you will be applying to and make a list of their requirements. I advise you to get a head start on your personal statement essay over the summer and make rough drafts so you can go over it with your English teacher in September. Working on your essay over the summer will allow you to pace yourself in a way that you are not rushed to complete it by the deadline and have a lot of time to think. By researching your colleges, you will get to know what supplemental essays they require, as some will require none, and some can require more than five. It’s all about planning, and the earlier you plan, the better the result will be.
Please do not stress out! You will get through with this. It may seem as if it’s the most stressful time of your high school career, but trust me, it’s not. As long as you prepare yourself beforehand and have the confidence to tackle any setback, you won’t need to worry. Remember, plan out your goals for the rest of the year and make a list of tasks to complete by September. The sooner you begin, the more gratifying and successful the experience will be.