Time to Start Planning for College
Okay, most Seniors are in the midst of hearing back from schools and finishing up applications, and some are deciding on a gap year. All good. And a sincere congratulations to all those who have heard from their Early schools and the acceptance was extended! For those still waiting, best of luck! So what to do if you are a Junior? NOW is the time to start your college plan in earnest.
Hopefully, many of you have started your standardized test preparation. If not, and you need some affordable, proven successful, and superior quality help-that’s right Contact us! Otherwise, whatever resources you are using, please get that process started now. It is usually best to take at least four to five months prior to your test dates to begin. If you are planning on the March/April testing cycles…find some support for your preparation now.
So what else should Juniors be doing? Well, as you await your PSAT scores— if you took them—you can start searching for colleges. No need to feel locked into anything at this point, but this is the time to start the process of research. Many students have particular needs, and many simply go by the myriad or search engines, referrals of friends, and so forth. If you are not being recruited as an athlete, you need to begin this process during the month of December. If you wait for your own guidance, you will be slightly behind the majority. Better to start now, so that when you meet with guidance, you will be far more informed and can offer better constructive feedback for any of its suggestions.
I like my students to have done research over the Seasonal break of at least 25-30 schools. I want any schools they think they want, based on any criteria, to be researched. I want a list or a table or a spreadsheet made for their choices. I want them to look at Standardized test score ranges accepted the year before last. (These are the most recent on any school’s webpage right now) Additionally, I want the average GPA by the 50th percentile listed. I want reasons for choice: looks great, has a program I like, my parents went, it has sports I like, etc. Size of study body, geography (city or rural), want to walk to classes or have to take buses across big schools, etc. Is Greek Life important to you? I want the potential academic choice or school: engineering, film, arts, architecture, nursing, etc. I want students to decide if they want to live on campus or not. I want students to think about roommates-do you see yourself with one, two, or none. I want students to put down extra-curricular activities, they feel are must haves. In short, you are creating a wish-list.
On your wish list, you should put everything you want in a school. Then you need to start looking at schools you think you want to visit or go to. Many times what students want doesn’t match up with a college they have on their list. It is okay. This is the beginning. This is simply an exercise to get you to start looking at college’s websites, and also an exercise about your own preferences. You have no requirement that says you must visit all the schools. You have all the way until you actually apply to visit. Please do not feel compelled to travel to all the schools in your Junior winter and spring. In fact, summer is often a great time for visiting.
What is created right now is nothing like the list of actual schools you will eventually apply, but it is simply a start. You are not committing to anything yet. You also need to gain some skill at navigating the sites, learning how a school presents itself, etc. Look at each school’s Mission Statement. Watch the 360 videos. Check them out on YouTube as well.
From this initial list, we go about reviewing what you have for your actual GPA, the types of courses you are taking, your PSAT scores or SAT/ACT scores to date, and your desires. Then discussions take place with your parents as well as you to start looking at targets, reaches, and safeties. From this initial place, the range is rather liberal, but also you will receive advice about choosing courses, changing grades, adding activities, looking into summer programs, etc. Summer programs need to be applied to by February/March. Even summer jobs need to be applied to by March/April. The Early Bird does get the worm!
So this is how we start. If you want the best support and advice, please sign up for a consultation. Always great to have a professional outline your timeline and offer you the best suggestions for optimizing your resume!