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  • Toby Chau

College Tips: A Student's POV

This week, Scarlett Schwimmer (10Au), who recently returned from a college tour from MIT and Carnegie Mellon, agreed to share what she learned during her time on campus.

As college admissions become more competitive each year, admission officers are looking for more than just grades; they are looking for extracurriculars. They want to know that you can take advantage of the resources you have access to (taking the hardest classes available, extracurriculars), and thrive in them.

Colleges want to help you be successful in the future and are open to students switching majors and applying as an undecided major, so don’t think what you do in high school is going to determine what you do for the rest of your life. An estimated 20-50% of students apply to college as undecided and 75% of students change their major at least once before graduation.

When writing your essays for college, admission officers are looking for a personal statement. You should write about something unique in your life and should be personal to you, so don’t have someone else write it for you.

Some colleges such as the UCs are allowing applicants to apply without a standardized test score (SAT, ACT, etc.), which places even more emphasis on your extracurriculars and essays. This allows the student’s capabilities to be reflected by something long-term like a project/ECs and not by a 3-hour test. However, this does not mean you shouldn’t prepare for these standardized tests as many colleges still look at these scores.

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