Jeff Schiffman of Tulane University wrote a nice list of tips your High School Juniors should do now. Here are the 10 tips:
1) Your coursework and grades matter the most in this process.
Stellar ACT and SAT scores can give you a big boost, but at the end of
the day, the grades you earn in your high school classes are king. We
look for a balance in your schoolwork: taking the most challenging
courses that you can that still allow you to maintain a strong GPA. And
yes, your freshman and sophomore year grades matter. Big time. Take
challenging courses but don’t overdo it, leaving you with a sub-par GPA.
Again, it is all about finding that balance. Easier said than done, I
know. Some students can load up on all the hardest classes and get a
4.0, some (like me in high school) do well with a good mix of some
challenging classes, and some students are on the other side of the
spectrum. Wherever you land, there is mostly likely school out there for
you. Granted, if you are on the high end of the spectrum with both
grades and rigor, you’ll be most appealing to those super selective
2) Consider taking both the ACT and the SAT. Tulane will look at both and has a conversion chart that shows us that XXXX on the SAT is worth roughly XX on the ACT. But, we only look at the higher of the two. Some students do better at one test over the other. Taking both may end up helping you out. We’re also fully self-reported these days, so you can send in all of your scores on our application portal for $0.
3) Build your relationship with your high school. First step, get to know your school counselor. Even if you are at a big public school, get to know them. They know what they are doing and can be your best advocate in this process. Next, really get to know your teachers. Invest your time in the classroom. Wow them. Make yourself missed when you leave. Become indispensable to your school.
4) Be open to a wide range of schools. Big, small, public, private, local, community, international, research universities and small liberal arts colleges. Explore them all, this is your time to do so. Keep an open mind! Just because you haven’t heard of it or if it’s not a “bumper sticker” college, don’t rule it out. Seriously. There are over 3,000 colleges and universities out there; take the time to give some of them a shot. Found a few that strike your fancy? Here are some great questions to ask your admission rep to get to know the school better.
5) Use your summers wisely. We think that the programs to foreign countries or exotic service trips are fine. But we also think working at Subway as a sandwich artist all summer is great. So is coaching a local youth sports team. Summers might mean taking a class at a community college. Don’t worry if you can’t take an amazing trip or do service work abroad. Trust me when I say some of the best summers are spent in some of the most humble ways. We love that. You might even consider some of Tulane’s summer options.
6) Read books. Read the news online. Watch documentaries. Read more books. Listen to podcasts. Know current events. Know what is going on in the world. Be a conversationalist. Whenever I interview people, one question I like to ask is “what’s the last good book you read?”
7) Participate in a few extra-curricular things you love. We don’t need the seven page resume laundry lists here at Tulane. We like those concise, one page resumes—the two or three most important things to you. Begin to identify your areas of impact and stick with them. You can read all my resume tips here. Wondering if something will look good on your application? I have the answer to that.
8) Stay out of trouble. I was in high school once, too. Be smart and make good decisions. I don’t know when I turned into my dad, but just please don’t make bad choices that will wreck your future. This mostly applies to how you act on Snapchat and other social media channels. Trust me, it matters. Just ask these people.
9) Start visiting colleges soon! Take spring break or a few days off to do so. Summer is fine, but not it’s not the best time to see a college when most of the student body is away from campus. Take a road trip to a school close by to you to get a feel for college campuses. Even better, come visit Tulane! Shoot us an email and we’ll enlighten you to all kinds of great hotels with Tulane discounts, great places to eat, great festivals to check out, and oh, yeah maybe take a tour of Tulane, too. You can read all my tips for a great campus visit here. Also, visit a college near your hometown, even if you don’t think you’ll apply there. Just start to get a feel for what college tours (and college in general) is like. I’ve got tips for visiting colleges here.
10) Meditate. Trust me on this one. It’s a superpower that will pay you back in dividends over the next two (somewhat stressful) years. I help you get started here.