The Secret to College Applications? Confidence.
Grades can be frustrating. You’ve worked especially hard in a particular class, and yet, the grade your teacher has given you doesn’t accurately reflect your effort. But do you know what’s more of a challenge? Self-grading. In one of my classes this year, our instructor lets us give ourselves a grade on every single test and quiz we take in her class. While this may sound incredible at first, giving myself grades on my exams has actually been one of the most difficult exercises I have ever done. It turns into a constant battle with yourself: don’t give yourself too high of a grade you don’t deserve, but don’t be too humble with a low grade you worked hard for. Last week, in this particular class, we were going over a test. I had thoroughly and correctly explained my answers, with my best effort, so I decided to give myself one-hundred percent. For the first time, I scribbled a “30/30” across the top of the exam and turned it in. And it felt good. Perhaps you don’t have a class where you’re required to self-grade, but if you are a sophomore or junior in high school, you need to get used to noting your hard-work and sharing it with others. I’m talking college. When applying to college, there is no individual who can vocalize your passions, skill-sets, and dreams better than yourself. You’re going to have to get used to talking about yourself. A lot. Based on this, here are 3 secrets to set you up for success senior year.
Secret #1: It’s okay to be proud.
I’m not talking arrogant. Nobody likes that student who can’t stop bragging about being soccer captain, running for ASB President, having a superior GPA, and their dozen other accomplishments. This doesn’t mean being proud among your peers: this means being proud to admissions officers who want to learn about you. If you’ve worked hard on a project that you care about, then talk about it in college-entrance essays and interviews proudly, with the genuine passion you have. Don’t cut yourself short. You have accomplished so much in your time in high school, even if it’s as simple as learning how a business is run by working part-time at a local restaurant. Every little success speaks volumes about who you are as a college applicant. Be proud of what you have learned and how you have succeeded.
Secret #2: Record your accomplishments
Start now! Take note of things that have sparked your interest, things that you are proud of, and things that you put all your effort into. When it comes time to craft an essay about areas you are passionate about, make it easier on yourself by recording these things throughout high school. One great way to show-case yourself on a free online platform is to create a Cirkledin account at www.cirkledin.com. Cirkledin allows you to record everything you have accomplished, enhancing your story with pictures and explanations about activities. Colleges will view your profile and learn who you are as a person, rather than a set of numbers on paper. Taking note of the things that make you proud is one of the most important parts of this process. If you don’t record it, then you’ll lose the opportunity to share a piece of who you are.
Secret #3: Be aware of deadlines.
Create a calendar. Form a list. Start a planner. Staying on top of deadlines is an essential part of conquering senior year. College application deadlines are cold, hard dates that you need to work around. One easy way to meet these due dates is to complete things early. In the spring of my junior year, I have already asked two teachers if they are willing to write college letters of recommendation for me and I have started my common-application essay. Allowing yourself extra time to edit final drafts and compensate for any unforeseen complications will always reward you in the end.
You know yourself best, and it’s important to represent yourself in the best way possible. Using these 3 secrets, you can set yourself up for a successful senior year with minimal stress. As a culture, most students feel awkward revealing such personal information, including their stories and accomplishments. Writing to admissions officers may feel like you’re meeting someone for the first time by telling them every part of your life while learning nothing about them. It’s going to feel a little awkward at first, just like self-grading. But you will find the confidence when you figure out how to give yourself that “30/30”. When you practice talking about the activities that make you who you are, you will discover the courage to be proud of yourself.