If you’re a high school junior, chances are many of your senior schoolmates are either breathing a sigh of relief after being admitted to their first-choice school or anxiously awaiting the release of admissions decisions in a few months. Fast forward one year and you’ll be in their shoes.
To make sure you’re as prepared as possible, here are some things you can start doing NOW that will help to create a competitive application when the time comes:
Determine your learning style. Do you like hands-on assignments involving research? Do you prefer lecture-based learning complemented by reading? Would you rather work on projects independently or are you most productive when collaborating with your peers?
Colleges and universities have varying academic philosophies, so figuring out which learning style suits you best will help narrow down the schools that could be the right fit for you.
Pick a favorite subject. One thing you’ll come to find about college life is there’s a lot more freedom and a lot more choices—especially when it comes to class options. Figure out what intrigues you and why so that your application can relay why attending a certain school will support you in following your interests.
For example, if you like English classes, is it the analysis of the work or the writing process that appeals most to you? At Hopkins, we have an English major that tends to focuses on literary criticism and a Writing Seminars major which focuses on creative writing.
Get out of the classroom. Look for opportunities beyond your school walls to pursue something you’re interested in. Summer programs at a local school, classes at a community college, or research projects are all ways to take what you’re learning in the classroom and expand upon it. Make it something you really enjoy, and want to explore further. And then be sure to talk about it in your application.
Challenge yourself. Think about taking courses that will prepare you for the rigor that comes along with college-level academics. Our admissions officers are looking for students who have taken advantage of those high-level, challenging classes available to them at their school.
Go beyond academics. The admissions committee is looking not just for strong students, but also for students who will contribute to the community. Find opportunities (whether it be through clubs, organizations, or teams) to make an impact. Contribute to whatever it is you’re a part of—leading a membership campaign or fundraiser, organizing a team outing, or maybe even starting a new group in your school.
Moral of the story: Take time to really reflect on your experience in high school and what you’ve liked and disliked about it. Discovering what you want to get out of your college experience will help you create an application that shares your goals, interests, and personal character with the admissions committee.