7 Things I Would Do Differently if I Had to Apply to College Again

Hi! Before I get started, I should introduce myself:

My name is Andrea Schlageter, and I’m a Student Success Advisor at Testive. I spend my days talking to parents of high school students, learning about their journeys to college, and helping them make the right decision for how to prepare.

I graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in international relations.

I got a great education and am proud to be a BU alumna.

However, now that I’m working at Testive as a student success advisor and work with high school students on a regular basis, it’s made me think a lot about what I would have done differently if I were back in their shoes gearing up to apply to colleges.

Here are the seven things I would change.

Apply to a wider variety of schools

Although Boston University is a great school, I have always been slightly embarrassed to admit that I was only accepted to one school.

I got waitlisted at Wellesley, and rejected by Yale, Brown, Vassar, and Northwestern.

Clearly I set my sights high, which is great, but in retrospect was probably not a great strategy.

What I would do differently:

I would apply to 8 – 10 schools with a wider range of admissions criteria making sure that at least half were schools I was pretty confident I could get accepted to and the other half were reach schools.

Start my college hunt sooner

I only took one week to tour colleges and they were all in the northeast. I didn’t look at any southern or midwestern schools. Maybe there could have been a good fit somewhere in there, but I didn’t take the time to look.

What I would do differently:

I would have talked to my guidance counselor, college advisor, or searched the Internet a little more for the schools that best fit my academic goals. And, I would have started making this list in my sophomore year.

It’s OK if you don’t have your SAT or ACT scores back yet, you can still research and visit schools you think you might be interested in. And, if you find a school you really like, you’ll know the target score you need to achieve on the SAT or ACT to get in.

Apply to the Honors College

It always seemed like the kids in the Honors College at BU were doing really cool things. I like to do cool things. I didn’t have the chance.

What I would do differently:

If I had to do it all over again, I would have applied to the Honors College at the universities I applied to. Instead, I let my senioritis get the best of me and didn’t take the time. Take the time. You owe it to yourself to maximize your learning potential and…you get to do cool things!

Make sure to fill out the FAFSA form

No matter what income your parents make, it doesn’t hurt to fill out the FAFSA form to see if there is any chance of getting some financial aid. You might be surprised! I didn’t fill out this form so I got nothing.

What I would do differently:

I definitely would have taken the time to sit down with my parents and fill out this form as early as possible. Yes, it’s long and tedious, but it would have been worth the time if there was a possibility of NOT getting strapped with thousands of dollars in college loans after graduation.

Andrea at Fenway Park in Boston

Finish my SAT/ACTs before my senior year

It’s not uncommon for seniors to give the SAT or ACT a final shot in the fall semester of their senior year, but I found myself taking the SAT for the third time and the ACT for the first time at this point. It was definitely overkill and grueling since I was also trying to fill out college applications at the same time.

What I would do differently:

Like we advise our students, I would have taken a practice test of both the SAT and ACT in the summer of my sophomore year, decided which test was most comfortable, and then taken that test once in the fall of my junior year and once in the spring. If you feel you still want to take the test one more time in the fall of your senior year, you can, but keep in mind it will be competing with college applications and any remaining college tours you need to take.

Be more productive during the summer

Every summer I had a great time bumming around my grandmother’s house, but looking back, I should have focused on things to better myself in some way or another.

What I would do differently:

I would have taken advantage of all of the jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities available to high school students and/or spent some time prepping for the SAT or ACT. If I had, I might have figured out that my focus should have been on the ACT vs. the SAT, which I discovered way too late.

Focused on one thing I really cared about

Many high school students think that by just showing up and getting decent grades they are doing what they need to do to get into college. Yes and no! Yes, you will probably be able to get into some college, but if you want to get into a really good college, you need to get involved in some extracurricular activities.

What I would do differently:

I would have gotten involved with something that I was passionate about or had an interest in. No matter what it is, if you can play a sport, an instrument, join a club, or even volunteer for the prom committee, it will show you have initiative outside what is required in the classroom. It might also give you inspiration to draw from when filling out your college essays.

By | 2017-08-14T18:34:24+00:00 November 1st, 2016|Other Posts|0 Comments