Although I’m a self-proclaimed college admissions wonk, there are some things that even I would change if I were to start this chapter of my life all over again.
The first thing that comes to mind is taking a foreign language in college. Throughout middle and high school I took Spanish. When it came time for me to select classes for my first semester at Hopkins, I opted to not continue taking Spanish because I was so excited about the wide array of interesting courses that were not offered in my high school. While I don’t regret taking Evolutionary Psychology and Race and Education, I do regret not taking a foreign language. As I am now applying for various post-graduate opportunities, I am quickly realizing that this is something that is holding me back from applying for some pretty fascinating (and lucrative, to be frank) opportunities. That said, do not do what I did and abandon any foreign language skills that you may already have under your belt!
Another piece of advice that I have for prospective undergrads is carefully consider all college credit opportunities while you are in high school. Whether credit can be gained after performing well on an AP or IB test, or successfully completing a University in the High School course through a local college or university, you should think about taking advantage of such opportunities. However (and this is a big, potentially money-saving however), do not pursue any of the options that I just mentioned if you are certain that you are attending an institution or exclusively applying to institution(s) that do not accept such credit. I realize that it may be difficult to determine where you will attend or even apply early on in high school when such options are available, but this is still something worth considering because, as a cliché broke college student, I can tell you that, saving money is pretty much always a good thing.
My last piece of advice for you today is to take both the SAT and ACT. I say this because I sat for the SAT three times and, I’m not kidding when I say that my scores were decidedly sub-par to get me into the schools I wanted to attend. Thankfully my ACT scores were far superior to my SAT scores (eat that, College Board!). By taking both of these (stupid) exams, I had the freedom to only submit my ACT scores. To this day, I’m still convinced that Hopkins would have rejected me had they seen my less-than-mediocre SAT scores.