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Colleges seek well-rounded, prepared students

They are the top of the class with a 4.0 grade point average, captain of a sports team, president of the student body and campus clubs and involved in volunteer work. This combination of elements help to create, in a sense, the “perfect” student.

College acceptance percentages are slowly decreasing. With these forces already against future applicants, the need to be prepared when filling out those perceptive college applications may begin as early as freshman year.

Academic Adviser Molly Sargent urges students to start planning ahead for the future before their junior year by learning their ideal college’s requirements. She says that colleges begin checking students as early as eighth grade.

“For recruitment purposes, it can start as young as junior high depending on the kinds of programs kids participate in,” Sargent said. “For example, if you are a part of John Hopkins, those names, I’m sure, are sold to colleges who wish to have an early list on hand. So I wouldn’t think before eighth grade, but I guess its possible they can look at you before.”

However, becoming the “perfect” student comes with a couple of hardships. One is the amount of time put in, and another is the opportunities missed, such as social events, during high school years. Instead of attempting to become this student, there are other ways to get noticed.

Sargent suggests that because of the unseen quotas that colleges have for accepting students, kids should focus on getting high test scores.

“Every school is different, but I assume that they have an admission statement that they don’t share to the public,” Sargent said. “My point is: it used to be good grades and test scores got you in, and sometimes if you were a certain minority. My best advice is to get the highest test score that you can, be active in extracurricular activities, as much as your time allows you to be, and pray.”

Along with this, Student Worker Francis Luvuulwa from the private Christian college Pepperdine University says that colleges especially want their students to be involved in both academic and communal activities.

“[Pepperdine] looks at the whole individual; of how involved in the community and in service works the student is,” Luvuulwa said. “Don’t bury yourself just in books, get involved in service, but the grades are still important. [College] is very competitive; you need to put yourself out there for things, take all the opportunities and let the sky be the limit.”

Like at Pepperdine, Biola University Senior Admission Counselor Nicole Hollearn says that colleges looks for students who continue to progress in their curriculum.

“It’s never too early to start familiarizing yourself to the college process,” Hollearn said. “We like to get to know the whole student during the application status, get a glimpse into the overall character and spiritual life.”

At Fresno City College, Student Aid Sandra Torres says that students should begin their study of different college programs as early as possible.

“It [college admission] is just initially hard,” Torres said. “Students should look through every program to help you get the classes that you need, and get counseling.”

So the journey to become the well-rounded student does not begin in the midst of your senior year, or a week before applications are due. Sargent suggests that students should begin as early as their entry into junior high.

“College planning is important now,” Sargent said. “You shouldn’t wait until you’re a junior; you need to start college planning in seventh grade because the courses you take in junior high and high school will determine what type of college you can get in too. It’s very important to plan, if you know that you want to go to a very good college, you need to start taking the right math classes so that you can end up in [them].”

Math teacher Mike Fenton says students should become motivated about college. Fenton encourages students to visit colleges and set up goals in order to reach where they hope to attend.

“[Students should] take as many core classes as you can,” Fenton said. “Challenge yourself and consider taking honors and AP [advanced placement] classes even if you don’t consider yourself able too,” Fenton said. “Physically go to a college, tour it and walk around. Get excited so you have motivation.”

One way schools have already begun to promote this is by having students begin scheduling classes with a hand out of class options on March 28. Sargent hopes that students will take advantage of early scheduling and acquire classes that will further their chances of getting into future colleges with the correct requirements.

“Start preparing in seventh grade because the courses you take in junior high, in part, decide what classes you will take in high school,” Sargent said. “And if you want to take AP Calculus, well, you better start taking Algebra in junior high. You need to be on track.”

For more information about college advice, read the Dec. 14 article, College Corner: Filing the FAFSA.

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