Senior Reflection: What I wish I knew going into high school

Jack Stiles, Staff Writer

For me, high school was a great overall experience; I met my life-long friends and made some of my favorite memories. However, looking back on my experience completing my college applications, here is what I wish I knew: 

I wish I knew what colleges really wanted from students going into high school. Obviously colleges are looking for strong grades and a great GPA, but how do you achieve this? 

Freshman year going into the course selection process, take as strong a course load as you are capable of succeeding in. For electives, take classes you believe will help you in your future, regardless of the uncertainty underclassmen have for their collegiate major. As you get older, potentially sophomore year, but especially junior and senior years, you should take AP courses to show colleges a rigorous course schedule. However, do not overload yourself, because they do have a challenging curriculum and a hefty course load; it is important to have balance. 

When you take AP Courses, your GPA operates on a 5.0 scale, meaning a B in an AP course would be a 4.0 opposed to a CP class, where it would be a 3.0. These courses significantly increase your GPA, giving you a leg-up in the college admissions process. 

This is the first step for a competitive college application, but how can you stand out to colleges, regardless of strong grades?

Extracurricular activities are the best way to stand out to admissions officers. No matter what you do—play sports, perform in the band or participate in clubs—this is your chance to show admissions officers why you are different from the next candidate with similar academic talents. I would strongly recommend joining clubs, and/or trying out for a sport. The collegiate “Common Application” has space to list 10 extracurricular activities, so participating in camps, clubs and other activities throughout the school year as well as during the summer is extremely important as well. 

Of course, each person has their own path which they chose to discover, and each person has a different high school experience, but at the end of the day high school is where you make your best friends and memorable experiences. So, be sure to live in the moment and don’t overstress, because you will end up exactly where you should be in the future.