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College Advice for Juniors

For the class of 2019, second semester means that college applications are increasingly relevant. How should we approach the process so that it goes as smoothly as possible? What advice would the current seniors give, looking back on their experiences? Here are ten tips from the senior class of 2018:

Jamari: “Honestly, don’t even worry about colleges during the second semester of junior year. You’re only drafting essays and school searching; the real stuff doesn’t happen until senior year. Overall, don’t procrastinate because deadlines come really quickly and you don’t wanna have to write three separate 500 word essays about times in your life that you can barely remember, because it’s not fun typing those up an hour before they’re due. Not from my personal experience! Other people, though.”

Iris: “Try not to stress too much about it; I personally didn’t. As long as you find schools that you like, and don’t pay too much attention to their ratings, you’ll be okay. Think about if that school is a place where you’d want to spend the next four years. If you only get accepted to one, you don’t want it to be a school that you don’t actually like but that you only applied to for superficial reasons.”

Victor: “Accept yourself for who you are and the rest will follow. Live not for the future, but thrive in the moment.”

Ashley: “Get your writing done during breaks––don’t do them half an hour before you meet with Kate.”

Tiffany: “Don’t get too caught up in the stress of the process. It’s super hard, but once you kinda look back at it, you realize a lot of things are out of your control. As long as you try to make your internal deadlines and do your writing in small incremental chunks, you should be okay.”

Marley: “Remember you learn what you’re looking for later on in the process; what was an “A” at the beginning might not be an “A” at the end [for researching schools].”

Aditya: “Don’t worry about it.”

Olivia: “Don’t freak out. Have fun, too. For essays, someone told my mom ‘imagine the reader is on the East Coast, snow is outside their window, it’s late at night, they’re reading by lamplight, and they want to be excited––they don’t want to be put to sleep by your essay.’”

Anthony: Don’t push everything to the last minute. Follow Kate and Martin’s plan because it’s a good plan.

Tara: My advice for essays is that if you don’t enjoy writing it, no one’s going to enjoy reading it. Think of what’s interesting to you. Sometimes it helps to even just think of an interesting phrase or sentence that you can use that you’re excited about.

Anthony [in response]: Yeah, I know a girl who wrote a really really nice essay about growing blue kale in her backyard.

Heading into this process as C-shop (college workshop) meetings begin this week, I have several goals: consider everything with an open mind, whether that be about new schools to research, locations that I wouldn’t initially be interested in, or even test scores that can feel like evaluations of intelligence, but in reality aren’t representative of who you are as a person and are negligible in the scope of your future.

To me, college still feels many years away, so my thoughts regarding the application process are still slightly abstract and unclear, and I’ve found that my personal uncertainty about what to study after high school is what generates the most stress. Particularly at College Prep, it can feel as though all the students have a sense of direction in terms of their post-high school futures, and so far, I’ve found it comforting to talk with other upperclassmen who help me realize that “not knowing” is very common and perfectly okay!


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