The second semester of the school year is here and that means seniors can breathe a little easier now that college applications have been submitted. Juniors on the other hand are just getting started with their college search. This post is for you!
Create a College List — With PSAT score reports in hand and 5 semesters of grades, you’re ready to start thinking about colleges and what you need in a school for it to be a good match. Of course there are the features that quickly come to mind, such as location, distance from home, size of the student body, etc. Then there are the intangible qualities, the ones that can’t necessarily be captured in numbers, but you can feel them and their presence is important to you. What is the campus culture like? Laid back? Intense? How diverse is the campus and is it diverse in all of the ways that matter to you? Are classes taught seminar-style or as lectures? Do you have a preference? Do you learn better in one setting vs. another? Will financial aid be a consideration for your family? Are there any special resources or accommodations that you will need in college and are they available? These are just some of the questions that students should ask themselves when developing a college list. Start researching schools, schedule a meeting with your school counselor, and of course contact P&A if we can be of assistance.
Get to Know the Colleges — The best way to discover if a college will be a good fit for you is for you to visit the campus and experience its culture and community for yourself. There is so substitute for the lessons that can be learned and the insight that can be gathered during a college tour. Make the most of school vacations this semester, and visit the colleges when they are in session. In addition to participating in admission office information sessions and tours, students can sit in on classes, go to lunch with current students, attend sports competitions and performing arts events, etc. I highly encourage prospective students to engage with current college students and get a true sample of what life is like at the colleges on your list. As you visit schools, you’ll get a better sense for what feels right and what you need to be happy in your own college career. Keep these recommendations in mind from the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) to make the most of your college visits.
Develop a Standardized Testing Plan — This is the time to think about taking the SAT/ACT exams and when. You may also want to take SAT Subject Tests depending on the admission requirements for your colleges of interest. Deciding which tests to take may be a good conversation to have with your school or independent college counselor. Also, you should consider the best way for you to prepare for the exam(s). Should you sign up for one-on-one test prep tutoring or do you think you can study on your own? Completing your standardized testing requirements before the end of 11th grade is ideal as the fall is a busy time with school commitments and application essay writing.
For more tips on how high school juniors and parents can make this year a successful start to the college application process, get in touch with Popp & Asssociates today!