Friday, June 21, 2019
BY GERALD M. BRADSHAW
Bradshaw College Consulting
As we approach Aug. 1, which is the date when the College Common Application goes live, I am already beginning to receive questions from high school freshmen and sophomores who are “thinking/planning/scheming” about the best way to prepare for the application process.
I congratulate you on being ahead of the rush. When it comes time for you to apply to college two or three years from now, your classmates will be envious.
Leadership skills, high test scores,
good study habits key to
college admission success
If you are applying for admission to college this August for admission in 2020, your scholastic record and years of extracurricular activities are already pretty much “in the books.” You can; however, look to strengthen your grades in your last year of high school and broaden your extracurricular profile. Make sure that you pay attention to the essay prompts on the Common App because this will allow you to tell your unique story to the admissions staff at the colleges of your choice.
If you are applying for two or three years from now, there are several things that you can do now to improve your chances of getting in to the school of your choice. Start by developing an ironclad strategy for completing the next few years of high school.
The most impressive extracurricular activities are the ones that show leadership. Winning academic competitions, leading a team, developing a reputation for being the “go to” person in any situation and being that someone your classmates can count on in a crunch are important.
As I have said many times before, get involved in non-school activities. The fact that you have built a non-profit organization or have been promoted on a part-time job will impress colleges and can round out a plethora of school-sponsored activities. Do something that shows you have the ability to think on your own and are not dependent on someone else to make decisions. Many students must work part-time jobs after school and can’t participant in school activities. If you have received a promotion on the job or have managed others, it will impress admissions officials.
Score well on the SAT/ACT
This does not mean trying to increase your test scores to 1400/1600 on the SAT or 30 on the ACT. That used to be the unstated minimum. No more.
To be realistically competitive at top colleges, 1500/1600 SATs and 34 ACTs are more the norm. I recommend taking at least two SAT II Subject Tests. Math II is especially recommended for STEM students. You need to plan ahead for test date deadlines and try to have all testing completed by the end of your junior year.
Study for these tests as though you are preparing for boot camp. If you don’t have that attitude, you won’t make it. Fear of failure is a great motivator. Fear of not breaking the 1500 SAT or 34 ACT barrier is a real motivator! To be successful in raising your test scores, you have to do the work. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are lying. Students should study a minimum of two hours per day, seven days a week for a total of five weeks. That includes one two-hour session each week with a personal tutor. The other six days a week, students should self-study for two hours a day. Be sure that your tutor has scored perfect 800s on each test they tutor. If they can’t prove it by showing official copies of their test scores then do not hire them. Five weeks out of your life is not too high a price to pay to be admitted to the college of your choice.
Keep a Study Journal
This is the only way you can be honest about how much you study. Every day you need to note how many hours you studied and how many practice tests you did. I know from tutoring students that if you don’t write it down, you will be fooling yourself. I have tutored the SAT for more than 20 years and this is the only formula that has consistently helped students increase their scores by 200 points or more on each test. There is no substitute for hard work. If you put in the “blood, sweat and tears,” you will succeed.
In short, take the most difficult classes that you can during your high school years, show leadership skills, and get high scores on your entrance examinations. If you do all three, your chances of getting in to a top college or university are outstanding.
Gerald Bradshaw is a top US college admissions consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting.
Tags: Colleges SAT Preparation
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