October 17, 2019

How to Get an Advantage Before Applying to College

teen boy smiling
Are you a freshman or sophomore with dreams of going to a good college? It’s never too early to start thinking about what you want and strategizing on how you’re going to get there. In fact, the best advantage you have right now is time. You have time to think, time to act, and time to put all of the pieces together. Discover how you can best use that time and what you need to do to have an advantage by the time you need to start filling out college applications during your senior year.

1. Take Classes That Allow You to Transfer Credit

One of the best ways to get ahead while you’re in high school is to take classes that will count towards your college transcript. Such classes are concurrent enrollment, AP, and International Baccalaureate (IB) classes. Concurrent enrollment classes are usually classes at a high school that are accredited by a local college. The college credit you earn through these classes should be able to transfer over to the college you’ll be attending. AP classes are advanced classes that allow you to take a test at the end of the class where you’ll receive a score that ranges from one to five. Depending on your results, you’ll be able to transfer your score over to your future college for credit. Many colleges will accept a score of three, but some will require a four or five. An IB class’s final exam’s results can also be accepted as credit at an IB-accepting college. Of course, each college will accept the differing types of credit on their own terms.

2. Take Practicing for the ACT or SAT Seriously

a test scantron
The ACT and SAT are exams that colleges can use to determine whether or not someone can be admitted. Each school has different standards, and so the average acceptance scores differ from school to school. Don’t just wait until your senior year for you to take the ACT or SAT. It might be a good idea for you to start studying for these exams during your junior year. There are practice books you can buy or rent so you can study and be ready to take the exam when it’s time. You can also take practice exams too. For the ACT, KAPLAN has a lot of good practice resources. Also, 4tests has good practice exams for both the ACT and SAT.

3. Focus on Those Extra-Curriculars

Although your transcript and test scores are a huge part of your college application, it’s important that you present yourself as being well-rounded. While you’re in high school, choose extra-curricular classes and activities that you can put on your college application to set you apart. For example, you could join the orchestra or a sports team at school. Outside of school, you could get involved with scouts, sports, theater groups, or dance teams. Pursue your interests, work hard, and show off your accomplishments in your college application.

4. Participate in Contests & Scholarship Programs

College costs money! While you’re in high school, use your skills and work hard to earn money for college. You can enter art and writing contests or contests related to any particular interest you may have. If money is the prize, you could save it for college. You could also apply for a variety of scholarships that come from the colleges you’re interested in attending or private ones that organizations sponsor. There are a ton of scholarships out there for people with different abilities and backgrounds. Apply to any and all that you feel you qualify for.

5. Ask Yourself, “What Do I Want to Change?”

teen girl smiling in white shirt
When you were younger, how many times did you hear the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” You probably thought about all of the things that you’d idealistically like to be—an actor, firefighter, astronaut, lawyer, etc. As a teenager, you may not yet be entirely set on a career path or you could be going back and forth about your goals. This is completely normal. Let go of some of the pressure that comes from asking yourself what you want to be and, instead, ask, “What do I want to change?”

Think about the impact you want to have and let that be what guides you as you go about thinking about the activities you want to participate in. If you’re passionate about cancer causes and want to have an impact in that area, for example, you could start by volunteering with a local organization that focuses on childhood cancer, like the HayesTough Foundation. The experiences you stack up in your personal resume that are rooted in your passion and desire to impact can also help you when it comes to applying to colleges and may resonate with members of college admissions boards.

Talk With a School Counselor Today!

Whether you feel confident in doing what you need to do to get into college or if you feel completely lost in the process, your school counselors are here for you. Stop by our office, set an appointment, and ask us questions!

***If you’re currently not a student at Providence Hall High School, schedule a tour and visit with your parents. Talk with us, and learn how your education here can give you an advantage later on.***

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Providence Hall Elementary

4795 West Patriot Ridge Drive
Herriman, UT 84096
p: (801) 727-8260 f: (801) 727-8282

Providence Hall Junior High

4558 West Patriot Ridge Drive
Herriman, UT 84096
p: (801) 727-8260 f: (801)-432-8496

Providence Hall High School

4557 West Patriot Ridge Drive
Herriman, UT 84096
p: (801) 727-8260 f: (801) 253-4997