Advice From Bronx Science Seniors on the College Application Process

Bronx Science seniors share their tips on the college application process.


Ronni Kurtz / Unsplash

One of the best ways to find out which college is best for you is to visit campuses, attend classes, and talk to current students. It is important to get a feel for the school that you’ll want to attend for the next few years. With COVID-19 restrictions waning on many campus, in person visits are becoming more available.

Visit colleges and universities, apply to several of them, keep your grades up, participate in a few extracurriculars, and be a well-rounded student. The name doesn’t matter; if a school doesn’t have iconic status like Harvard or Yale, that doesn’t make it any less of a good choice for you — which at a school like Bronx Science with an already rigorous and competitive work environment feels like a half-truth. However, it truly is all about how you fit the college or university and how it fits you. 

If you’re in high school, you have definitely heard these words from a teacher, counselor, or from a friend in a higher grade. While some advice remains tried and true, hearing it all at once can be overwhelming. There will be an unavoidable whirlwind of emotions that you’ve never experienced before, during the college process. 

There can be an anxiety in applying to a school to which you really want to go, the period of time that you must wait in order to receive the college’s admissions decision, coupled with the celebrations for friends and classmates who have completely finished the process and made it to their top choices. And there is also sadness that can come with a rejection or deferral or being waitlisted, which is probably the most confusing college admissions decision of them all.

Remember to take breaks. Make sure that you take time to relax and to see friends in order to recharge. (Jed Villejo / Unsplash)

However, there are a few hidden gems in the college process. It brings friends closer and strengthens bonds you thought couldn’t get tighter. At times, it can feel really isolating, but knowing your friends are there to support you, whether it be through editing your writing, explaining steps regarding the application process with which you need clarification, on just giving you a hug when you need it, will help you to manage the entire process. 

Here are some tips that should help you with the college application process:

The Bronx Science school library, as well as local ones such as the New York Public Library (pictured), are great resources for SAT, ACT, and other study materials. They also double as a quiet place for you to write your college essay and supplementary essays. (Robert Bye / Unsplash)
  • Everyone says start early; they’re correct

It may feel counterproductive to start early, because what if you change your mind later on? Or what if, over time, your perfect idea for a college changes, and you don’t want to apply to the school that you had initially set your heart upon. That’s fine, and it happens more often than you might think. So, working even a little over the course of your junior year or the summer before your senior year to find a handful of colleges that you like and why, is a perfect first step. Others like to get really ahead of the game and this can involve starting an essay draft, writing school specific supplements, or visiting schools. Although, that’s not everyone’s plan. Maybe you feel lost and can’t think of where to start. Asking your counselor for a few schools they recommended for you or for Bronx Science students in general; this will still be a great starting point. Either way, doing something will inevitably be better than having nothing at all come September of your senior year. 

  • Stay true to yourself

While writing college supplement after college supplement, it’s easy to become lose your own voice. You think that you have to write what admissions officers want to hear instead of what you’ve actually experienced. Victoria Diaz ’22 said, “I think the best lesson that I’ve learned from the college process is to always be true to myself. I discarded drafts of college essays and supplements that I originally wrote, because I realized they didn’t represent me best.” The best way to find your voice is by practicing, and by understand how you write and what parts of yourself you want to portray. Diaz continued, “I started early by practicing my writing and thinking hard about the stories that I wanted to share with the admissions committees.”

  • Keep everything organized 

Aissata Barry ’22 said, “Google Sheets and Google Drive are going to be your best friends during the college process. Google Sheets is perfect for keeping track of application deadlines and financial aid deadlines. Google Drive is great for organizing all of your college essays and drafts into one place.” I couldn’t agree more – opening your e-mail to deadlines being thrown at you is the worst. Keeping all of your college application information in one easily accessible place and setting reminders ahead of time will help to keep you from staying up late in order to meet deadlines. 

  • Prepare for exams and interviews 

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but with COVID-19 a lot of students have put SAT and ACT prep on a back burner. While many colleges and universities went fully test optional over the course of the pandemic, some only went test optional temporarily. Make sure that you’re on top of test prep, and when you are looking at schools, carefully check what their testing policies are for your particular admissions year. Raisa Barshai ’22 said, “Definitely prioritize taking the SAT and ACT. Due to the pandemic, my scheduled ACT exam was cancelled, so I ended up not taking the ACT. Students should plan ahead if they need to take one of these exams.” Also spend time figuring out whether these exams are for you or if they aren’t. Maybe you’d rather highlight an art portfolio as part of your applications instead of test scores, and that’s fine, if it works with the college’s admissions policies. Just be sure of what you need for which schools, so that it doesn’t catch you off guard in the long run. 

Breathe in. Breathe out. Constantly remind yourself to take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back. The college application process takes work, but with your counselors, parents, friends, and advice from your fellow peers in this article, you’ll be just fine!
(Max van den etelaar / Unsplash)
  • Take a Deep Breath and Hold your Head High

No matter the college that you will eventually attend, the major you choose in college, or the future that you have, you’ll be able to look back and reminisce on this time. It’s undoubtedly difficult, but once you get through the college application process, the hard part is over — for now. Here are a few more reminders to help you navigate the college application process: 

Tanav Khanduri ’22 said, “Stay organized and happy. Drink water.”

Barry continued, “Also, learn to celebrate the small wins! Graduating from high school and getting into any college, regardless of its prestige, is an accomplishment worthy of cake.”

Sam Pokorny ’22 said, “Trust the process!! There are going to be so many times you feel like you want to give up and quit, but just put everything into the bigger picture! When you look back on it, you’ll realize you discovered so many things about yourself through the college application process.”

Rest assured that if you take just one piece of advice you learned here with you going forward, the college application process will be smoother for you. 

“Learn to celebrate the small wins! Graduating from high school and getting into any college, regardless of its prestige, is an accomplishment worthy of cake,” said Aissata Barry ’22.