What can younger students (9th and 10th grades) do to improve their profile and work toward college applications?

  • Deepen your involvement in your extracurricular activities. This doesn’t mean that you have to stick with every activity you started or tried in 9th grade– so, if you tried swim team freshman year but didn’t like it, it’s okay to drop it!
    • Devote your time and energy to a couple activities that are meaningful to you and that reflect your passions
    • Admissions officers like to see sustained, consistent involvement and personal growth. 
  • Create a running list of all your activities. Google Docs are great for this. Include everything you do outside school courses– clubs and organizations, volunteering/service, tutoring, babysitting, playing an instrument, working at a part-time job, etc.
    • Anytime you start a new activity or have a new accomplishment or leadership position, add it to your list. Include details that focus on your achievements, how your contribution made the club/org better, and why it was meaningful to you. 
    • Admissions officers will be looking for those details to help them see how you will add positively to their campus.
  • Prepare for standardized testing. While many colleges are now test-optional– meaning that you can apply without SAT/ACT scores– some colleges do still require test scores. Plus, strong scores will always help your applications.
    • Take a practice test for both SAT and ACT to see which test you like more/which one is better suited to you. Many students ultimately take both tests, to maximize their options. Colleges don’t have a preference for which test (SAT or ACT) you take. 
    • Create a test prep plan and schedule. Some students find group prep sessions helpful, while others do best with individual tutoring. Other students use online and print resources like Khan Academy and Princeton Review books. Whichever method you choose, take periodic practice tests to ensure that your scores are improving and that your prep is working for you! 
    • Admissions officers will use your test scores as just one data point that supports the other pieces of your application (transcript, recommendation letter, essays, activities list, etc.).

Look for more tips in future Opus blog posts in the coming months!

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