Taking one step ahead


Maddie Studnicka

Sophomore Hannah Anderson has started the college process planning early and offers tips to young students thinking about their futures.

Junior and senior year of high school are infamously known to be the grades of impending dread when college applications are a constant burden that many students struggle with. The average student doesn’t consider where they’re going to apply to college until they’ve reached their junior year, but studies have shown that teens need to start looking at colleges, bulking up their resumes, and thinking about where they’re going to apply even sooner.

Hannah Anderson, a sophomore, has started the college preparation process early by visiting multiple campuses, scrutinizing the majors based on her interests, and even creating a spreadsheet to the analyze multiple factors of the colleges that she wants to apply to, and she’s not even 16 years old yet.

“This year I’m in English 2 Honors, Journalism, Chemistry Honors, Algebra 2 Trig Honors, Global Issues, and Spanish 3 Honors. For activities, I’m in Microfinance Club, Read to Lead, Varsity Club, Criminal Justice Club as the secretary, I’m on the Peer Leadership committee, and I hope to make badminton again this year,” Anderson said.

One of the most important factors when it comes to applying for colleges is trying to distinguish yourself among the other applicants. This comes from participation in clubs and activities.

“Last year was kind of a wake up call because I was focusing too much on academics and I needed to become more rounded,” Anderson said. “That’s when I decided that I would look through all the clubs and find some that I really want to participate in.”

Given that Anderson has an older sister already looking at colleges, she’s taken part in the process as well. “I’ve started going on a lot of college tours with my mom and my sister. Basically what I’ve done is created a spreadsheet that organizes the schools I’ve seen and ranked them based on the best overall, dorm rankings, the location of the campus, what kind of campus it is, and the sports they offer,” Anderson said. “I think it’s going to help me in the future with making that decision of which colleges I want to apply to.”

Anderson’s mom, Kim Anderson works at Partners For Achievement that helps high school students and their families navigate the time consuming and stressful process of finding and get accepted at a college that is a good fit academically and financially, and gives her daughters tips on how to properly prepare.

“Hannah is doing great in terms of her college prep. She has taken classes that are in her field of interest to see if they are a good fit. She has also actively worked to take a competitive class load and she has participated in a number of clubs and sports that will allow her to demonstrate her leadership skills and work ethic,” Kim Anderson said.

In terms of her preparation, there’s nothing Anderson would change. “It is a hard decision come senior year which school you want to go to and I think it’s great that I have this background information and I know how to use it to my advantage,” Anderson said. “I’m still kind of intimidated by the idea of college, it’s a big change, but I’m excited because the schools I’ve looked at are nice and really great in terms of what they have to offer.”

Anderson is currently looking at American University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Indiana University, and Northwestern University.

“The two main places I’m looking at are in the Chicagoland area and in Washington DC because I really want to get into business or politics and those are both the hubs in the United States for those kinds of jobs,” Anderson said.

In regards to advice for young students thinking of the college process, Anderson spells it out simply. “Start thinking about what you’re interested in and what you might want to pursue after high school and then you can look up which schools that are known for majors that have to do with those subjects and you can go and look at those schools and see if you like them.”