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Give Yourself An Edge: Tips for All College Bound High School Students

what you should do to prepare for college

Challenge Yourself
Take advantage of the best your school has to offer. Don't settle for the minimum requirement.

Focus On Academics
Grades count so get into the habit of studying hard for tests and doing every assignment on time. If you are having difficulty with a subject, talk to your counselor. He or she will have a list of tutors or teachers who will be able to help.

Get to Know Your Counselors
Don't join the ranks of frustrated juniors and seniors who realize -- too late -- that they haven't taken all of the required classes they need for college! From 9th to 12th grade, ask your counselors to recommend the most challenging classes you can handle. An experienced college counselor can be your most important advisor and advocate. Make sure to build a relationship as early as possible.

Find Your Passion: Extracurricular Activities
Take risks, try new activities, join after school clubs. Colleges pay attention to what you do outside of class, and whether you've taken any leadership roles. If your school doesn’t offer an activity you are interested in, show initiative and form a new club, if possible.

Start Your Informal Student Resume/Bio Early
Include independent academic projects, extracurricular activities, leadership roles, interests outside of school (e.g., athletics, performing and visual arts, jobs, community service, hobbies, travel) and special achievements. Use this for job applications, enrichment program application, and for references. Give an updated resume to your school counselor every year.

Create a Portfolio if you have any Special Talents or Hobbies to Present
Over your high school years, put together a digital portfolio, on a USB drive or other storage device, containing documents, videos, and other examples of your special talents or hobbies. You can also keep a physical portfolio in a large manila envelope. Examples include:

  • Footage of a sports event or drama performance
  • Website addresses or photographs of your artwork or exhibitions
  • Newspaper articles you’ve written or ones that have been written about you
  • Returned academic papers and tests with favorable grades and teacher’s comments

Make an Impression
For classes, meetings or jobs; show up early, prepared and ready to participate. Give your teachers, school counselor, coach, or boss great things to say about you in their evaluations.

Request Your Transcript:
At the end of each school year, ask your school's registrar for a copy of your transcript. Check it over carefully and have your counselor correct any errors.

What Students Say About Susan...

"Even though it's been six years since I graduated from Princeton, I still freshly remember the fear and trepidation I felt before embarking on the application process. Susan Wolf helped me throughout--from conception to execution. She was a guide and mentor, helping me refine my ideas and craft a series of application essays. Working with Susan was instrumental for me, and the single reason I believe I got accepted. She helped me keenly identify the things that could help distinguish me from the hundreds of other applicants. She worked with me to make sure that my essays were more lucid but still retained my voice. As a writer now for the Wall Street Journal, that was very important to me. I've worked with a lot of editors in my job and can honestly say that she is exceptional. I feel very lucky that I got a chance to work with her on my college application process. It was crucial, and even, enjoyable (which is a tough adjective to use in this process!) " ~ Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Princeton Class of 2004

Ready, Aim, Fire!

college preparation search help

It's time to start your college search. But not so fast. Do a little research first. Check out informative college websites, take an online tour, read reliable college guide books and get feedback from friends who are already in college. Deciding where you will fit in and thrive for four years to come is a journey with many detours. So don't rush it. Give yourself plenty of time to get lost, change directions or stop and refuel.


Try It On First

college search help

How do you know where you want to go to college? What do you do to find out? The answer is found through personal experience. Visit a variety of local colleges and universities. You need to hang out at a sprawling state university, sit in on a seminar at a small liberal arts college, check out an 8'x10' dorm room, and eavesdrop on students in the dining hall. After doing this personal research, you'll be surprised at what fits, and what doesn't.


Highlight Your Passion

college application essay help

Colleges want a renaissance class made up of all types of students. What is your special talent? What sets you apart? Everyone has something they are passionate about, whether it’s quirky, off-the-beaten-path or more mainstream. Your individual passion is the thing that sets you apart from other college applicants and will ultimately round out a diverse class. Susan's specialty is to draw out your uniqueness and show you how to successfully communicate “who you are.”


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