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5 Lessons We Learned From This Admissions Cycle

1. GPA will continue to triumph extracurriculars next year.

GPA really matters. Your GPA is a very important indicator of your study habits, learning strategies, and time management skills. Before you work on your community services and projects, you need to prioritize school work and improve your GPA first.

2. Exceptional SAT scores can help you distinguish yourself.

Test-optional policy is here to stay. Applicants can choose whether or not to submit their SAT or ACT scores as part of their application. If you don’t submit your SAT scores, you won’t be disadvantaged in the admissions process. However, if you have exceptional SAT scores, you can distinguish yourself from a lot of applicants.

3. College essays have become more significant in the admissions process.

Colleges want to admit diverse and vibrant students, not extracurricular machines. When admissions officers are reading a student’s application, they want to evaluate the student from different aspects, such as their life experience, character, personality, talent, and achievements. So they will pay attention to the main theme and the storyline of the student’s application. They want to know if the life experience and achievements that the student demonstrated in their application are consistent and unforgettable. College essays have become more important, because students can humanize and personalize their applications through their essays.

4. Don't choose a major without a tangible reason or experience.

You need to be honest and specific about the true reason of pursuing your intended major. Don't lie to yourself.

Your reason also needs to be supported by your relevant experience. For example, here are three reasons for majoring in biology:

I want to become a doctor, so I am going to study biology. (NOT IDEAL)

I am interested in how mitochondria affects brain function and cognition, so I am going to study biology. (BETTER)

I have done research in the works of mitochondria and brain-derived neurotrophic factor independently, so I want to go to a college where I can continue my research. (IDEAL)

When you write your supplemental essays, you need to include concrete and convincing reasons for choosing your intended major, instead of superficial or sketchy ones. Your choice of major must be supported by:

  • Your true interests (What are you doing when no one is watching you?)

  • Your true desire

  • Your experience (e.g. research, projects, internship, etc.)

  • A topic you always want to explore more about, or a problem you want to solve (e.g. social, environmental, personal, international problems)

5. Entering a prestigious college is a natural consequence of self-discipline and self-actualization.

High school students are old enough to reflect and find their own purpose under the right mentoring and guidance. Exposure alters human brain functioning. To develop a growth mindset, these are what students need:

  • They need to challenge themselves, listen to their own voices, and learn how to fail.

  • They need time to study, reflect, and explore.

  • They need guidance from teachers, parents, adults, and peers.

  • They need both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

  • They need to take care of their physical, mental, and social energy.

  • They need to learn how to prioritize things and become purpose-driven.

When students become self-disciplined and purpose-driven, they will notice positive outcomes in many areas of their lives, such as improved academic performance, increased resilience, better decision-making, personal growth development, and future success.

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