General Advice by Mitra L. '07
Application advice for HS juniors and sophomores, inspired by a student's question
In my previous entry, Joan Tran from Louisiana asked for some general admissions advice. Hmm….
First, here are some previous entries on specific topics:
Advice on the college interview (Mitra)
But in terms of general advice, let’s see. There are no specific activities or test-prep courses I would suggest or anything like that. I recommend that you pursue things that interest and challenge you. These can be traditionally-thought-of-as-MIT-ish things like science fairs or math competitions, but they also can be things like (but not limited to) athletics, volunteer work, music and theater performance, and religious activities. Furthermore, if your interests don’t align with an organization and you pursue them independently, that’s fine too. (For example, if you love baking (Izzie), riding motorcycles (Cristina), or fly-fishing (Derek), write it down! You probably shouldn’t tell us if you failed the medical boards, though, Alex.) The admissions staff doesn’t have some set list of priority extra-curriculars or achievements it looks for on your application; rather, it looks for attributes that you can demonstrate in just about any activity.
Okay, now you’re challenging yourself in your coursework and activities — make sure you convey that to us. When you describe your extra-curriculars, either in an essay or on the application form, try to make it more than a laundry list. Elucidate what your role and contributions were, what you gained from it, how it has changed you, etc.
Another piece of advice I have is to be confidently relaxed. I hope that you have gone both through high school and through the application process ethically (not lying or cheating, etc.). You haven’t changed yourself for the sake of getting into college, so be proud of who you are and what you have done. No matter what schools admit you, you’ll go on to achieve great things in life.
This is the most general sort of advice I can offer. If you (mostly juniors, but I suppose some sophomores too) have specific questions about parts of the application form or application process, please leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. Joan, I hope this helped.