Tips for Hispanic Students This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     You’re smart, motivated, and want to go to college, but no one in your family has gone, or most of the minorities in your school drop out, let alone want to attend college. Maybe you’re not even sure how to start applying. Here are some tips for getting on track and snagging the attention of admissions officers:

1. Always check the box. Anytime you are asked to identify your race or ethnicity on a school test or document, check “Hispanic,” not “Other.” There are many scholarships specifically for Hispanic students and plenty of colleges want to increase their Hispanic student population, so it is always to your advantage to mark Hispanic.

2. Prove that you’re academically prepared for college. Take a challenging course load with advanced/honors/intensified and AP/IB classes. Don’t shy away from upper-level math classes, either, even if you don’t think you’ll study math in college or use it in your future. Colleges love to see precalculus on your transcript and calculus impresses them even more. Even if you’re the only Hispanic student taking these classes, don’t be intimidated. You deserve to get the best education your school offers.

3. Brandish your bilingualism. Even if you didn’t grow up speaking Spanish at home, but you’ve taken Spanish in high school, take the SAT II in Spanish and/or the exams for AP Spanish Language, AP Spanish Literature, and IB Spanish. If you’ve also taken another language in school, like French or German, admissions officers will be doubly impressed.

4. Don’t just cling to your books. While it’s important to be a good student, there’s more to life than studying. You have to learn to apply your knowledge, so occasionally put down your books and join a club, tutor another student, try out for a sports team, audition for the school play, write for a local newspaper, get a job. Do something that proves that you’re comfortable living outside of the classroom.

5. Take a leadership position. Don’t limit yourself to just joining a club - start or head one! Whether it means becoming president of the Latino Club or starting a youth soccer team in your neighborhood, show colleges that you’re not afraid to contribute to your community and make a difference. If you can organize a major fund raiser and gain publicity for your club from local media, that’s even better. Just don’t forget to mention those details on your applications!

6. Look for support. Sometimes it can be hard being a minority with big dreams for college when most of your family or friends don’t share your ambition. But just because your parents, siblings or friends didn’t go to college or have any plans to go doesn’t mean you need to follow them. Look for Hispanic role models in your community who have earned degrees and are respected professionals. Ask your teachers or counselor if your school has a minorities coordinator who can mentor you and answer questions about college, scholarships and careers, since it’s difficult making this journey by yourself.

Stay focused and college may very well be in your future!

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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