Choosing where to go for university or college is a process. How long this is depends on the person and their circumstances, but more often than not “college hunting” is a marathon and not a sprint. For me, I started my “college hunt” when I was ten, but for you, it may begin in your first year of high-school, or fourth grade. Hopefully you will have an easier time than I did, and to help, this is what I have learned from my ten-year college hunt.
- Find the school that is the best fit for you, not necessarily the best ranked or most prestigious!
When I was ten, my dad wanted me to look at Ivy League universities in the US. I was hooked. Particularly, on Yale University. I loved the prestige of the school. I imagined how far studying in an Ivy League would take me, and how happy it would make me to study there. The thing was, I loved the school’s ranking, not the school itself. I pushed myself for three years in middle school to get the best grades and the awards, got sick doing so, but in the end I didn’t get what I wanted. After a long period of time, I realized that I didn’t have to push for a school I only wanted to go to because it would look good on a resume.
After several years, I turned to Australia. At this point, late in high-school, I knew that I wanted to have time for myself during college to explore my interests. After talking to several of my relatives, I found that the lifestyle that I wanted was more in line with Australia than in the US. The more I researched, the more I fell in love with the schools, especially the University of Sydney. This time, I chose my school based on the course, location, campus, and culture. Instead of looking at how the University would look on my resume, I am excited to go and experience what it can offer me. Just keep this in mind: choose your school based on who you are, what you want, and how happy and excited it would make you to study there.
Take your time studying for standardized testing! Also, know what you need to get and practice around that. Predicted grades and essays are important, not just the test score.
Other than applying to Australian universities, I also applied to some liberal arts colleges in the US, meaning that I also had to do the SAT. I only studied for the SAT a little bit in my junior year, but how much you study depends on where you want to go. Be aware of what score you need to get for each of your schools so you know how often and how much you need to study. Doing practice tests may be able to help you determine an initial score so you know what to study specifically, be it Math, Reading, or English. Having a focus allows for you to be mindful of other extremely important requirements like the personal essays and school grades. Standardized test scores are not the end-all and be-all of applications anymore! Know what you need to get, work towards it, and keep the rest of your requirements in mind.
Find extracurricular activities, clubs, outreach programs, and sports that you enjoy.
In high-school, my clubs were Chorale, Model United Nations, Student Council, swimming, and several others. Luckily, joining a lot of extracurricular activities was encouraged by the school, and in addition to building my resume, I learned a lot that I could apply to most of my classes. Other than the resume, colleges can also look at how these activities are related to your character. You can also bring these with you to help you in college: joining and becoming involved in the school, as well as becoming a more well-rounded student. Even in high-school, learning is not just about academics and test scores, but about what you do both in and out of the classroom because it is about developing your personality and identity. What you learn from clubs outside of the school setting can be brought with you to college and beyond.
These are just a few tips that I’ve learned over the years, and hopefully you will have a much easier time than I did! You’ll learn a lot more through the next months or years of your college hunt and these lessons will continue to help you during and beyond college. Remember that the first step to prepare yourself for the “college hunt” is to know what is in store for you, and from there the only way to go is forward.
Lee, Ayassa. “Standardized Testing.” Odyssey, Odyssey Media Group, Inc., 8 Aug. 2016, www.theodysseyonline.com/rethinking-education-standardized-testing.
“The University of Sydney.” The University of Sydney, The University of Sydney, sydney.edu.au/.
“Yale Model United Nations.” Yale Model United Nations, Yale University, www.ymun.yira.org/.