“Applying to college can wait till my senior year.” That is the worst wrong thinking and college-bound high school student can have!
It is time to get informed. Getting into college is a long, hard process and is getting harder as college admissions becomes more and more competitive.
Here are some things you should be doing BEFORE your senior year.
Plan your senior year classes and prepare for them. – Grades can be a big factor in college admission decisions, and those grades need to be ones in challenging courses. Make sure you are taking the best classes you can your senior year. It is not a year to take it easy. You may also want to get ready so you can do your best. If you will be in AP English, you might want to get the book list and pre-read the assignments. If you are going to take calculus, you might want to work with a tutor for a few weeks this summer to review algebra and have an introduction to calculus.
Prepare for you SAT and ACT tests. – We hope you have already taken these tests during your junior year to have some practice and see where your weaknesses are. The fall of your senior year is when you should be re-taking these tests to improve your scores. This summer is the time to enroll in test prep courses and to both review test prep booklets and take online test practices.
Learn about colleges and make a college list. – There are three things you should be doing in this regard.
• Go to college websites and learn about the application requirements, programs offered, and the admission process. Also put your name on their list for information.
• Think about what you want in a college: the atmosphere, campus activities, types of classrooms, size, location, and types of students who attend.
• Visit the campuses of the college that look best to you. Schedule a campus tour with an information session. Organize a notebook with questions you have so you can take good notes when you visit.
Think about the financing of your college education. – Look at the FAFSA financial aid application and see what kinds of information you will need. Discuss with your parents what to expect from them and what you are responsible for. Start checking for scholarships. There are so many out there it can be like looking for a needle in a haystack so you need time to sift through. There are also scholarships specifically available to juniors who will be going to college.
If you think the above is a lot to do, think about adding this list to the one you will have when you actually apply to college during your senior year: essays, recommendations, transcripts, resumes, filling out the application forms. Take a little off your plate now!