The College Application is a Four Year Process

I am a senior awaiting college decisions. I have spent a significant amount of time these past few months working on my college applications, and I would like to pass on some words of advice. I did some things right and some things wrong. I hope you gain something from my experience so here are some recommendations on how to maximize your time at The Prep and prepare for the college application process. 

For your freshman year, all you have to do is push yourself to get the best grades you can. You are not expected to do much regarding college because it is your first year of high school. By doing the best you can in the classroom you will set yourself up for the most success. The first part of your application that colleges will look at is your grades and the rigor of your classes. Your freshman year grades are 1/3 of what colleges will see so it is important. If you are in a CP class, can you push yourself into the Honors class? If you are in an Honors class, can you push yourself to AP? I also suggest you immerse yourself into Seton Hall Prep as much as possible. For college applications, you need to list ten  activities that you participate in, and this will include clubs and sports. You can do this by joining clubs and trying out for different sports. I played all three levels of soccer here at SHP. I regret not trying out for basketball, but I am looking forward to winter and spring track as a senior. The more you put into the school, the more you get out of it. 

Just like your freshman year, as a sophomore, you need to motivate yourself to do the best you can academically. It is very important to get the best grades you can. As a sophomore you want to continue your extracurricular activities, actively engage and look for leadership positions. I made the mistake of not doing so and regret it. If you can become a leader of a club or a captain on a sports team this will help you learn key skills and present a strong college application. 

 Junior year is when college application life really ramps up. Once again, you should work to get the best grades you can. As a junior you are assigned a college counselor who is vital to your process. He will guide you through the journey. During this year, you will also take the ACT and SAT tests as well as starting your personal essay for college. You will also ask your teachers for recommendations and fill out questionnaires about yourself for them and your college counselor. This is also a year in which you should start prioritizing college visits. If you’re going on a trip for a club team or family vacation, find a local college. I had a soccer tournament in Richmond, Virginia and I was able to visit two universities nearby. I went on a family vacation to Miami and was able to visit the University of Miami. Going on visits like this to colleges can help you find what you are looking for in a school. If you are unable to see the campus in person, look to sign up for a virtual visit. I utilized this method for most of the schools to which I applied. The visits can also help you discover what you do and do not like. A great advantage of being a junior is that you can attend meetings of visiting universities here at school. This is a great way to learn more about a school and to meet a representative of that school. 

Senior year is THE year, and you want all your hard work to pay off.  I have submitted 11 of 13 applications and I am not done yet. This first trimester will typically be your busiest one yet, so you just have to grind. You want to create the best versions of your essay, Common App, and supplemental essays for each school. Maximizing your time during the fall is essential. I played on the school’s soccer team and found very little free time this first trimester. Everything takes longer than you think it will. I made the mistake of neglecting this fact and submitted one application with minutes to spare. Meeting with your college counselor as much as you can will help tremendously. He will work with you on building your college application list by hearing your interests such as location, size of school, and what you want to study. The counselors will also be realistic as to what schools are a reach, possible, probable, or likely. They will provide very valuable feedback to better your essay and Common App.  

 We attend a very competitive school where everybody tries his best. The years go by in the blink of an eye. Study hard, do your work, get involved, and set yourself up for success during the college application process.