1. What is the best summer program?
This is actually not the right question to ask. The right question is ‘what is the best way to achieve something great?’ Choose programs that you would enjoy putting energy into and try to make a real difference.
2. Which is better? Top grades or rigorous coursework?
The reality is both. Top grades in rigorous course work are the best way to demonstrate to a college that you are prepared for the further rigors of academic life on a college campus.
3. Which club should I join?
Join a club, team or society whose mission aligns with your interests and goals. Again, try to make a difference. Don’t just participate, lead and stand out. This will help you stand out on your college application.
4. What is a good SAT / ACT score?
You want to earn the highest score you possibly can. This means you must prepare ahead of time. Take the preparatory classes, take the practice exams. Learn as much as you can about how to earn a high score and do your best.
5. How much community service must I do?
You do not necessarily have to participate in community service at all. What you need to do is stand out in your extracurricular activities. So, choose activities you enjoy, so you will be more likely to invest your time and talent in them.
6. What’s the most important academic activity?
Read books. Read for class, and outside of class. One of the most common traits of academically successful students is that they read for enjoyment outside of their regular academic coursework. Of course, do your homework, complete it on time. Give yourself ample time to study for exams in order to get the best grades that you can. But reading is the best way to expand your mind.
7. Who should write my recommendation letters?
It is advisable to get three letters of recommendation. Two from teachers and one from your school guidance councilor. And the best way to earn a good recommendation is to put forth effort in those classes, and to get to know your teachers outside of the classroom. Talk to them before and after class, about anything. Let them know about your interests. Show them you are motivated to succeed in life and they will be more than happy to share that information in the form of a recommendation letter.
8. What’s the best way to prepare for the English portions of the ACT or SAT?
Read books. This is the answer for two of these questions for a reason. It is that important. It’s a great indicator of academic success and it’s a great way to learn outside the classroom. Yes, it expands your mind, but in answer to this specific question, it expands your vocabulary. This is of crucial importance for the English portion of the ACT or SAT.
9. What’s the best extracurricular activity to pursue?
Pursue activities you enjoy. It is in those area where you are most likely to put in real effort, and where you are most likely to truly excel. This is what college recruitment officers want to see. Mere participation in extracurricular activities pales in comparison to demonstrations of leadership in those activities. Go where you want to make a difference, and then make that difference.
10. Should I apply Early Decision?
Applying early decision is an option, but only if you are truly competitive for acceptance into that school. It is not a random lottery. Schools are looking to lock in top performers, and get an idea of the remaining spots they have open for the regular admissions process. It’s also a great way for you to put the stress of the college application process behind you sooner than later. But again, if you wonder about your ability to get accepted into a school or program, or feel like it is a stretch for you, do not apply early decision.
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