I came from a small highschool with over 85% of students being low-income minorities. Both my parents did not go to college in America however my father had a foreign B.A (Thailand) which was basically useless when he first came to America because 1) He spoke very broken english 2) No one trusted asians back then. For the majority of my dad’s life spent in America, he worked at jobs that didn’t require any type of education which was a major setback. My father was educated and experienced in a lot of work environments but he just didn’t know how to put himself out there.
Here I am a few weeks away from starting college and I feel a bit like my dad when he first came to America. Don’t get me wrong, I love Rutgers… but I truly wish that I knew more before applying to Rutgers to increase my chances of getting into a few programs that Rutgers provides.
- SAT score matters A LOT. No matter what they tell you, SAT is so much more than your GPA. Why? Each individual university has their own ranking and weight system. Like I said, I came from a poor high school. My highschool’s budget was probably 1/3 of the average school’s budget. Teachers were being let go due to the reason that the school didn’t “need” them. So you can just imagine how the quality of our education became brittle and it definitely reflected in our test scores. The majority of the students in my school finished above a 3.5 GPA because, I’ll just say it, the courses were easy and the curriculum taught the bare minimum. Colleges know this. They are aware of this. So they have their own ranking system. So even though I finished with a 4.0 GPA, my ranking against other first year students is very weak because my 4.0 is nothing. That’s when SAT comes in to solve the problem (thank you Collegeboard for existing). SAT reflects discipline and how well a student can adapt his or her brain to solve problems of a certain format. Flexibility in the brain is very important in college. It also determines merit scholarships (but there are other things too like your grades that matter)… but I would imagine everything is filtered through SAT first. So if you’re a senior in HS and really need to get a scholarship/into an accelerated program, work on a 1400 SAT because my 1350 just didn’t make the cut.
- High School: College is Appetizer:Entree. Yeah. You probably know what I’m talking about. I’m gonna try to keep this bullet clean and simple. Do. Not. Try. Super. Duper. Hard. In. High. School. You can try super hard in highschool… just not super DUPER hard because you’re just going to burn yourself out and not have the energy to go further. Relax! Enjoy the freedom while you can. Work more to save money. Spend time with friends that you’ll never see again! Just save yourself for university, that’s all!
- You’re gonna be in debt, anyway, so just spend what you want! Here’s what I did my senior year of high school because I was really focused on not paying a single penny for my undergrad (I didn’t get any merit scholarships so I was in big trouble). I QUIT cross country (I would’ve been a 4-year varsity athlete), I did the bare minimum in all my clubs, I worked 8 hour shifts 4x a week, I didn’t go to prom, didn’t go on the senior trip, didn’t buy a yearbook, and didn’t buy any senior t-shirts. I don’t regret it too much because my undergrad is basically all out of pocket and I don’t need any loans BUT I already know that college books are expensive and I’ll need to get money from somewhere ( thx dad… I’ll pay you back). And I pay PSE&G, water, car insurance, car loan, phone, and internet bills… how’s my work schedule gonna work out with my school schedule? I don’t know…
- College honors does not have room for accelerated programs. I’m not in honors even though I wanted to be BUT I wanted to be in an accelerated program first. Thank goodness I didn’t get into honors because it is sooo appealing and I would have accepted the invitation in a heartbeat. Accelerated programs come first in my book. So make sure you know what you want: honors v accelerated.
- AP’s are only beneficial if you want the credit for them. Many people in my school took AP’s for a variety of reasons: GPA boost, looking good on resumes/applications, and college credit. But let me tell you, GPA’s don’t matter as much (once again), other things look good on a resume, and that last one… yeah that will be a good motivation to take an AP. If you’re a sophomore in HS and you’re thinking about taking an AP… my suggestion is to know what you want your major to be and take the AP’s that will place you out of the pre-req courses. Kids in my school took APUSH and AP Euro junior and senior year, respectively. But none of those kids are going anywhere in that direction. Most students are going into business or science-related. They only took those AP history courses because those are the 2/3 AP courses offered at my HS (sad, I know). And they didn’t know what they were doing when they took the courses. Some had motivations to take it because they just think it’s fun… but come on, don’t waste time people!
All in all, this is just my opinion of what goes on behind the scenes in college. Every college is different and I hear that admissions officers are trying to look at the bigger picture when accepting students into college. Let’s hope change is now!