I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but I am big on learning from experiences.
I've had plenty of missteps in my life and I helped thousands of kids through their own. So I've gathered my ten best lessons I've learned over the years as a college counselor on what to do and what to avoid in the college admissions process.
10. Don't take the SAT or ACT on the weekend of a big event, like prom, the school musical, or a life event.
9. Don't drop core classes (English, math, science, history, foreign language) any year of high school if you can avoid it.
8. Don't walk up to your teacher before or after class to ask them to write you a letter of recommendation.
7. Don't spend the money to attend pay-to-play summer academic programs.
6. Don't do what everyone else is doing!
Do something different when it comes to the activities you do, the essays you write, and the colleges you consider. The application process (and life) rewards those that have the confidence to be their own person.
Related Reading: Perfect or Interesting? What Colleges Really Want from Students
5. Do consider and visit plenty of target and likely colleges.
4. Spend your summer earning money, contributing significantly to your family or community, or if you are lucky enough, pursuing your personal dream.
All of these endeavors show commitment and should be represented on your activities list, especially if you have put in the hours and weeks to prove it.
3. Think through your major choice carefully.
The strongest applications come from students who have the evidence to back up their major choice.
2. Invest time into your essays once junior year ends.
Essays are often the way to an admissions officer's heart.