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What underclassmen can learn from this year’s admissions decisions

Green Mountain College (VT) offers a program in Sustainable Business.
Green Mountain College (VT) offers a program in Sustainable Business.
Photo by Julie A Manhan

Admissions decisions are in the mail. All that’s left for seniors to do is to decide which college to attend. All the choices they have made over the last four years have brought them to this moment. While it’s not possible for them to re-do those years or make different choices, there is still time for underclassmen to learn from their achievements – and their missteps.

Some seniors are admitted to selective colleges when their classmates, who have higher GPAs, don’t get in.

LESSON: The rigor of the classes you take does matter. You should always choose to take the most difficult classes you can reasonably be successful in. (i.e. If you struggle in Math, taking Honors Calculus probably isn’t wise. However, if you do well in Languages, you should take that AP course.) Students who push themselves a bit are more likely to have more options for college than someone who only takes what’s required.

Some seniors did amazingly well on their ACT/SAT.

Lesson: Reading more than just what’s assigned in class can give you an edge. Students who do a lot of reading tend to do better on those tests because they usually can both read and grasp the point of the reading more quickly – a definite advantage on tests where you have limited time. You don’t have to read a certain kind of book. Anything that sounds interesting to you is the perfect place to start.

Some seniors seem to do well in all their classes.

Lesson: Asking for help is a smart thing to do. A truly good student has the courage to admit when they’re in over their head. Whether you’re struggling in Chemistry or have questions about college applications, the best thing you can do is to seek help from an expert as soon as possible.

Some seniors are surprised when they don’t get into school they were qualified for.

Lesson: Submitting applications well before the last minute is a really good idea. Maybe those seniors procrastinated a little too long. The more rushed you are, the more likely you are to make a costly mistake – or even miss the deadline. So, get ahead of the game. Use part of the summer to work on college essays so you can get them proofread long before you have to submit them. Put together a list of activities you’ve been involved in and awards you have won, so completing the application is quicker and easier. In some cases, getting your application in well before the deadline means that you’ll also hear back from them sooner!

Some seniors are going to schools I’ve never heard of.

Lesson: Having an open mind about colleges can have unexpected rewards. Maybe those seniors know something you don’t. There are colleges out there that have cool programs like providing iPad Minis to all freshmen, offering class field experiences in other countries, or studying on their campus in Rome. Some also have very generous scholarship programs!

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