It’s never too early to start preparing for college admissions, even if you’re only just starting high school. Schools are looking for students who are both model academic students and good global citizens with a desire to change the world. Your application is the way for you to show them why you are a unique individual and why they should invest in you. You want to provide them plenty of evidence that you’ll be a success story, and you can start making your case as soon as you start high school. Let’s go over four tips for 9th graders hoping to attend an Ivy League college.
1. Think about your extracurricular activities.
Ivy League colleges will take note if you are an active member of your school community. What activities can you sign up for, and what clubs can you join? Try to find a few activities that appeal to you. Don’t just join everything you can to compile the longest resume. You want to find extracurriculars that match your areas of interest so you can immerse yourself. Whether it’s Model UN, the debate club, or a team sport, there is plenty you can do outside of class to build new skills and have fun.
2. Take an SAT prep class.
The most significant difference between people who do well on standardized tests and those who don’t is simply the level of preparation. SAT prep classes teach more than just the information required for the test, but how the test itself works as well. As SAT takers can tell you, learning how to take the test is just as crucial as requisite knowledge. If it’s too much work during the school year, take advantage of the time off in the summer to keep yourself busy.
3. Challenge yourself with advanced courses.
Getting good grades is essential, but Ivy League schools pay attention to what courses you were taking. An A in the easiest course your school offers just doesn’t demonstrate much when you’re trying to prove you’re at the top of the class. Most elite schools also expect applicants to have spent four years (or more) studying a language, so choose one that interests you and commit to it. Experts recommend three years of laboratory science, two years of history, and four years of advanced mathematics. You want to show that you’re pushing yourself and taking on the most challenging curriculum available.
4. Learn to present yourself professionally.
The reality is that when you apply to an Ivy League school, you’ll have an incredible amount of competition. There are thousands of students who get good grades, have impressive resumes, and boast high standardized test scores You have to show that you stand out and that you’re on your way to becoming a competent young professional. Most schools will either let you have an interview on campus when you visit or will set you up with alumni who will report back. When you go to your interview or tour, dress appropriately. Consider a tasteful dress and a cardigan sweater, which will make you look polished and professional. Dress the way you would for a job interview or an important meeting with an academic advisor. The impression you make might be the difference between being accepted and feeling the cold sting of rejection.
College admissions aren’t a simple equation, and there’s no way to predict what specifically each school will be looking for every year. Still, there is a lot you can do to prepare in advance to put yourself in the best possible position when its time to apply. Good grades, high standardized test scores, meaningful extracurricular activities, and a challenging curriculum make up the backbone of a great application for an Ivy League school. Beyond that, it’s up to you to distinguish yourself and show your chosen university why they should want you, and it’s never too early to start.