We’re dealing with kids here, a fact that some people in the process easily lose sight of if they’re too wrapped up in the competitive aspects, profit-motive or statistics-driven bubbles. So I personally just love seeing these young students put their best foot forward and do their best relative to their skill set and life situation. Because each school is looking for something a bit different in order to complement the existing student body and further the stated goals of the school’s mission.
For activities, it's all about quality and depth. It's better to put effort in the activities that you actually enjoying, rather than you have a lot of different activities but you have little involved in it. IF you enjoy what you're doing, and it's related to your future major, that's great. But also you want to show commitment, you spent your time in doing these because you like to do them, and how to interact with people. When you go to the university, you're not just gonna stay in the classroom, you're going to live in with other students, you're going to be involved within the campus.
This is actually a pretty big problem, because you don’t want to apply too early and you don’t want to apply too late. Applying too early, you are running the risk of not understanding what your school wants, which is a big problem, because when you first enter the school, you are kind of lost. You don’t know what you are doing; you don’t know what the school wants from you. So the best time is at least after the first year, probably sometime around second year is when you could start applying.
So most undergraduate students choose their major at the end of their second year, at the end of their sophomore year. You can do it earlier, and some colleges will have different departments, but generally speaking, the end of sophomore year is normal. Why do most students do this? Why some colleges require students to do this? Well, this is because when you enter a college, generally speaking, a college will have a set of required courses for students to take, this is going to be a very broad set with a lot of flexibility.
The biggest thing that you can probably do is based on what you want to study. Just type in Google or any other search engines: top majors and top schools for this major. US news reports are not going to have necessarily those sorts of things, so if I want to be in international relations major, I would look at foreign affairs. And you will find at least in 2012, there were three or four schools that were not even in the top 25, but they were in the top 10 for foreign affairs. So this has to do with the geographic location of the schools. If I want to get into the politics, I am not going to go to the Northeast. Massachusetts doesn’t have something to offer as foreign politics officer.
As an older, non-traditional applicant, it is reasonable to expect that admissions officers will be curious about your activities between high school and your decision to finally apply to university. Why did you delay your university studies? How have you grown and developed over the years through your work and personal experiences? Why are you motivated to apply for university at this stage in your life? Consider showing the admissions officers the answers to these potential questions through your essays.