Monday, January 8, 2018

Tips for the American College Process

Hey everyone! If you have read my blog anytime in the last year, you would see me constantly talking about the stress of the American college process. I started the process in early January 2017, and I am finally finished! I will be attending Providence College in the fall, and I am part of the class of 2022. High school isn't over for me yet (five more months, as of today), but I am still so excited for the journey that awaits me regarding college. I can't wait to decorate my dorm room and explore Rhode Island (as of now, I have only been to that state three times). Since many people all over are starting the process, I decided to give some tips I have learned over the last year of my life.

This photo is of me with my Providence College Acceptance on December 18, 2017.

1. Don't slack off Freshman and Sophmore Year.

When I was a freshman in high school, I had a really hard time adjusting to my new school. I was also super focused on making friends and extracurriculars. I was struggling in Biology, and I should've gotten more help in my classes and/or a tutor. Although it doesn't seem like freshman and sophomore year would affect your chances of colleges, it definitely sets the path for the rest of your academic career. I was never good at science, but by junior year I had found a tutor who helped me through Physics. Even if your freshman year grades aren't the best, an upward curve in grades throughout high school is looked on positively.

2. You Don't Have to Be in All Honors and APs.

There is way too much pressure to be put in honors or APs. I have met people who thrive in honors and APs, and others who crash. Personally, I was never in honors classes and I still did well in school. Many colleges don't look down upon those who are not in advanced or honors classes, they look to see how well you are doing in the classes you took.

3. Take a Practice ACT and SAT Before Prepping For Either.

 I took a practice SAT in my sophomore year and my junior year of high school. Both were given out at my school. I also took a practice ACT but didn't take it seriously because I thought that I liked the SAT better. If I had taken both with the same attitude, I would've realized how the ACT was the better test for me instead of taking the SAT.

4. Take 2-3 Tests (unless you get a perfect score).

There was no way I was going to get 1600 on the SAT or a 36 on the ACT because I had not prepped enough in order to get that high of a score, and my education didn't meet what I would've been tested on. I was held back in math when I had switched schools, so I am taking pre-calculus as a senior even though that subject is on the standardized tests that I took as a junior in high school. I had done an SAT course from January to March 2017, which was run by Kaplan (do not recommend) and by the time I took my SAT I had only gotten 1140. When I had taken a practice SAT with no prep, I had scored only 10 points lower. My SAT course barely helped me. Then, I bought both an ACT and SAT prep books because I signed up for both in June. I took the ACT because many people told me it would be "easier." The second time I took the SAT, I received 1200. On my ACT, with barely any prep I received a 27 (equivalent of 1300 SAT score). There are so many different factors that go into scoring a higher test score such as the testing center, amount of preparation, previous knowledge, the ability to answer all the questions in a short amount of time, and a clear head. The first testing center I went to caused me to become very stressed out, and I ended up not doing as well as I could.

5. Talk to your guidance counselor if you can.

 My guidance counselor is an absolute blessing! She compiled a list of twenty schools and worked with me to find the ones that I should look into. She's actually the one who gave me Providence College, to begin with, and here we are! Your guidance counselor is the person who should help you the most with the process, and help you find schools that are good for you. It's also a bit of a reality check when certain schools are far reaches meaning really hard to get in, even if you have everything they want. They are also the people who can give you fee waivers, and help you get in touch with representatives from the school.

6. Visit Schools and Do Interviews!

If you had asked me where I would want to go to college a year ago, I would've said, "possibly Boston College" and don't get me's a lovely school, but once I visited it I decided not to apply. During my spring break, I visited three schools in Boston, and two in D.C, and ended up applying to one of those schools. After visiting schools, I decided that I wanted a campus school with lots of sports outside of the city. In June, I visited Lehigh University and Providence College and decided which school I wanted to be at. By visiting schools, you get to experience what it's like to go to that school and get a feel for the people. In August, I scheduled an interview at PC in order to express my interest there. Expressing interests in schools definitely helps because your interviewer will either take notes on you or be the person who eventually reads your application.

7. Spend a lot of time on your personal essay, and make people read it over.

I didn't have my personal essay done until two weeks before I turned in my applications, but once it was done my old English teacher read it and helped make it more coherent. Finding a topic and writing your story is a crucial part of the whole college process. You want the reader to get a feel for who you are because in the end, they are the ones who accept or deny you. Your test scores and grades are just one part of you, the personal essay gives your profile a personality.

8. There's no such thing as safety schools.

You will hear so many people talk about safety schools. As much as you can be certain a school will accept you, there is always the chance for some reason they don't (unless there is a 100% acceptance rate). There are so many colleges and universities to choose from, and they all have different things they look for in a future student. There are people I know that were accepted into schools with 12% acceptance rates and denied from 75% acceptance rate schools. There's no exact science to getting into a certain school.

9. You'll get in somewhere!

Many people become scared that they won't get into a university. If you apply to schools that you have a good chance of getting in, along with your dream'll get in somewhere. I was deferred from a school that everyone thought I would get into, but two others schools accepted me and then gave me scholarships before I even found out from my top school. Although everyone is different, you'll end up at a university no matter what.

I hope this post was helpful to those of you who are entering the college process! I am sure you'll be fine. If you have any other questions or need advice, my twitter handle is @thisfashiongirl. I am in no way an expert on the college process, but I definitely wanted to give advice because the whole process is super scary. 

For those of you not from the United States, comment what the college process is like in your country!

                                                                Christina Madeleine




  1. Despite being a UK student I found this post so interesting, some things are so similar but so different between out education systems. Well done for getting it all sorted and good luck for your final year at school!!x

  2. Thanks.It is very helpful to me, personally.
    What about the stay! Is it possible to find out a good home-stay, host family?



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