Article by Richa Shah

Second semester consists of the most crucial months for our upperclassmen. Within a week of school, our juniors have begun their Extended Essays and have already gotten a head start on the college application process. Meanwhile, our seniors, who will be sharing the campus with us for only a few more months, have just finalized their college applications and are looking forward to beginning a new chapter of their academic lives later this year in university.

At this point, the juniors have tons of questions that need to be answered for the process to seem less daunting. So, to provide the most sensible and helpful guidance, we decided to ask the seniors – the experts themselves – to share their personal thoughts and experiences with the incoming batch of seniors, as well as with our underclassmen who still may be unfamiliar with this particular process.

How important are standardized tests?

In the United States, some selective universities require the SATs or ACTs, while some are test-optional. Senior Akash A. strongly believes that standardized testing will not be your only golden ticket to college. “Although these tests are important to selective schools in the States, you also need good grades and extracurriculars to support your application, so I’d say focus on those things first,” he adds.

Similarly, senior Regan O., a prospective art major who also applied to universities in the U.S., claims that grades should be emphasized throughout the application process. “The SATs and ACTs are important, but be sure to focus on your grades first! Colleges look at your high school transcript before anything else in your application,” Regan adds.

How many safety schools should we apply to?

Considering the fact that ISM only supports 10 college applications per student, it is essential to create a balanced list that consists of a fair amount of match, reach, and safety schools. When asked about his preferences, Akash says, “I applied to 2 to 3 safeties.” He also believes that maintaining self-confidence is key throughout the college application process. “I think that’s the right amount of safety schools for any student because you want to make sure that you don’t aim too low.” Similarly, Regan adds, “I only applied to 1 safety school, and I don’t regret it… for now.”

What do you look for first in a college?

Deciding on the size, location, majors, and programs offered at a university can be a difficult task. No matter how early you start researching, you will always have some unanswered questions. When asked about his research process, Akash explains, “I would definitely start with the facilities and programs. Since I’m doing engineering, I looked at the labs that colleges have, the discoveries that they have made, and also simple things like projects that I could possibly join.” Regan also responded in a similar fashion, as he says, “I looked at universities that had the best programs for digital art, and I also took into account their facilities.”

To steer clear of confusion, Akash believes turning to an adult for advice is the right thing to do. “Talking to counselors about your college decisions is highly recommended,” he adds. “They can help you out with anything because they’re all so experienced, and they’ll also help lift some stress off of yourself!”

How do you make the university application process less scary?

“Start early!” both Akash and Regan emphasize. Keep in mind that meeting the deadlines will not only make you feel productive but also satisfied, as you will be ahead of the game and ready to take on new challenges along the way!

So there you have it! Hopefully, this made applying to college seem less intimidating, and we hope this helps you stay motivated throughout the process. Good luck, Bearcats!

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