Colleges tell you what they want, but often students don’t hear what they are saying. Let me translate for you. They want you to take the hardest classes offered at your school and do well in them. Of course, not everyone is talented in many different courses of study; so this may seem impossible. It isn’t. Here’s how to look great to college admission and scholarship personnel.
Figure out your strengths. Perhaps math comes easy to you, or maybe it’s foreign languages. You might love science or find writing is your talent. Look at your grades. They will tip you off. If it's routine for you to get an “A” in a specific subject, then that’s your strength. If you don’t mind studying for a particular class, if it doesn’t feel like work to you, then this too may be in your wheelhouse.
Take the hardest classes in those subjects that administration will allow you to take. Enroll in extra classes in these areas, even if that means summer school. They will not overwhelm you, because for you they come easy. Here’s an example from my own life. I started French in ninth grade. In the tenth grade I continued with French, and added German. I continued both in the eleventh grade, and added Spanish. I made room for these electives by taking required subjects I didn’t especially like, but which were not tough for me, in the summer. I aced all of the foreign language classes and the others I took in summer school.
Why? Because I enjoyed the languages and didn’t mind studying. The summer classes were easy because I didn’t have anything else to study. You may not choose extra foreign language classes, but pick something you both like and don’t find difficult. Because I had taken and aced many foreign language classes, college personnel were so impressed; they didn’t notice I only took the required number of math classes.
Find your strength, talent or interest. Take as many classes as you can in these subjects, as far as you can and settle for nothing less than an “A” as your final grade. There are always creative ways to make more classes fit into your schedule. Find them. Do more of what colleges want and become the ideal college scholarship and grant applicant.
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