As summer approaches, rising seniors make their way towards the culmination of the college process: application season. With three months remaining until the Common Application goes live for the 2017-2018 school year, these fresh-faced seniors need to start pruning their college application list and make the most of their Summer vacation when it comes to college app prep.
Just two years ago, this was me. But I was a little special because I only had one school in mind when starting my applications. After visiting Boston University in the Winter of my sophomore year of high school, I was certain that it was the school for me. As such, I catered my after school activities, academic work, and SAT prep to BU’s standards (which, I admit, were relatively lower than what they are now).
BU has been getting progressively more selective in its admissions, especially in the most recent year. When I was accepted, BU admitted 29% of applicants and my stats were basically dead average for the class. However, for the class of 2021, BU only admitted 25% of applicants. This is both a function of the rise in the number of applications BU receives as well as the admissions team’s shrinking goal class size. Don’t let this scare you away just yet! Even if your high school work was pretty average for BU’s standards, think about applying Early Decision 1 or 2 in order to raise your chances of being admitted. This was the route I chose to take in order to display my devotion to BU, and it worked out in my favor.
Now, since I’m targeting this post to those people looking to apply to colleges this Fall, I have to be aware of the fact that many of you have already finished taking the ACT and SAT. But I’m sure that a few of you are also planning on giving these standardized tests one or two last attempts to perfect your score. I took the first of my two SATs in December of my junior year and I took my final SAT in April of that same year. On my first exam, I got a 1980 (equivalent to a 1350 on the new SAT). The only score I was disappointed in was my math score – a 600 – which is equivalent to a 620 on the new SAT. So, I focused my SAT prep just on my math, found a tutor to work with a few times, and brought that score up to a 650 in April. On that exam, I accidentally also raised my Writing and Reading scores as well, so my overall score was a 2080 (equivalent to a 1410 now). So, my recommendation if you’re looking to take the SAT again in the Fall, focus on one subject area that could especially use some help. For your reference, this past year, the average SAT score for class of 2021 admits was a 1452 and the average ACT was a 32.
As for grades, I’ve never been the type of student to get straight A’s in school. For the class of 2021, the average grade was an A- and the average admit was in the top 7% of their class. Now, I was not in that category but I was in the top 25% of my graduating class and I have a 3.57 GPA. The most important thing to me in high school was being somewhat more successful than the average student in my school, and to take plenty of AP classes to beef up my weighted GPA and get a head start in college credits. I graduated with 11 AP classes under my belt and a 5.14/6.00 weighted GPA. School was important but I was never the kid in high school who felt compelled to spend 6 hours doing homework every night. Even in classes I enjoyed, like English, I put in a solid amount of effort but I never gave more than about 95%. Finding some sort of balance between keeping healthy habits like getting plenty of sleep and getting good grades was more important to me, and has served me well in my freshman year of college as I sought to avoid insanely late nights in the library. Taking challenging classes, and putting in a healthy amount of work (while also showing some sort of growth in grades) is what got me to BU. I’m sure that there are plenty of people at BU who took more AP and IB classes than I did and kept 4.0 GPAs, but that was just not my style in high school and I still ended up at a top tier school. So, take whichever route keeps you sane in high school while also maintaining the high standards that BU sets for its applicants.
Outside of classes, I was also somewhat active in leadership in my high school, serving as secretary of both the Future Educators Club and the National English Honor Society and as the captain of the Varsity Girls’ Golf Team my senior year. I also participated in several theatre productions between my freshman and junior years. My senior year, I took half a schedule of classes and spent the rest of my day at a local elementary school assisting one of the fifth grade teachers there. I feel that this showed an extra level of maturity and a certainty about my chosen major, which was in the School of Education at BU. This was one of the best programs I had access to in high school as it gave me reduced school hours but also provided me with a new work experience and some of the structure high schools need.
Since coming to BU, I have met several peers with insane resumes and crazy internship opportunities. However, within SED, everyone shares the same passion for working with kids so I don’t feel too inadequate and I feel somewhat at home with the “future educator” type. I have to admit that acceptance rates to SED are somewhat more liberal than into the other, larger schools with less specialization in career path. I also chose to apply to BU under the Early Decision program in order to get a response and a commitment a lot earlier than I would under the regular admissions program. It may have caused senioritis to hit a little earlier than some of the other seniors, but hey, I was already committed to college.
Don’t be intimidated by applying to top tier schools, especially if you have less than perfect grades. Being a considerably well-rounded person with some sort of direction in career interests was enough to get me through high school and into BU.