In less than one year, your Class of 2018 student will be done with their college applications and will begin receiving their early action application results. Here are a few things that you’ll want to start focusing on to ensure that they’ll be ready to begin the applications!
- Project their GPA
Schools will be asking about the student’s academic history through the summer after their junior year (for the most part). The colleges will ask what courses the students are taking their senior year, but only some of the schools ask for mid-year grades. Knowing their GPA will help you to determine the likelihood that your student will get accepted.
- Standardized Tests
It’s good idea to have your student take the SAT or ACT (with the writing options) at least twice before the end of their junior year; it will help make the process of building a balanced list of schools before the summer easier so your child can start their applications during the summer. It would be even more helpful if you could get some test results before Spring Break in April so that you can go visit some colleges to get a sense if they would be a good fit. This way, if you’re going to spend the time and money to go visit schools, you already know the chances of them getting accepted. Don’t forget about checking for potential subject test requirements or recommendations from different universities. The last thing you want your child to have to do is study for a test in a subject that they finished 3 months to 18 months prior.
- Profile Development
Many colleges ask about a student’s profile. With record numbers of applications being submitted to universities every year, having a strong profile is the way your student will stand out next to another student with the same academic ability. They’re going to ask about leadership roles, community service, extracurricular activities, special talents, achievements, awards, and work experience. The applications will ask what year the student was involved in these activities, and how many hours per week and weeks per year they’re involved in them. Please plan to get students involved in advance, and don’t wait until the last minute to try to get involved. At this point, they should be really considering their major and starting to build their profile to support their academic interests.
- Campus visits
Start to plan some trips to visit colleges while they’re in session. Take the campus tour and visit the departments they’re interested in majoring in. You want to know what the differences are between how they’ll help your student with their educational goals. Also, many of these colleges are asking why a student would want to attend their university. If you visit some schools with your student, they’ll have some material for their application essays and will gain some perspective on what they like versus what they do not like. Having this experience makes it easier for them to write these essays.
- Create a Balanced List of Schools
When applying to colleges, students and their families need a balanced list of schools for multiple reasons. Check out our blog on applying to a balanced list of schools.
- Summer Plans
Summertime before senior year should be spent working on applications and anything that can support their applications before they go in. Many of these applications are asking why the students are interested in going into the major they’re selecting. If the student gets some exposure or involved in activities that can help them learn more about an academic area, it will give them more material for their applications and help develop their “passion” for their academic areas. Academic programs, summer courses at a college, and internships are just a few of the ways a student can provide evidence of their academic interests.
- Gear Up for Application Season
Application season is a busy time. Getting organized, setting deadlines, and meeting those deadlines is critical. Students and parents sometimes underestimate the time involved in the process. Our average student applies to 12-14 schools on average and has average of 18 essays they’ll need to write. Most of our students typically take 3-4 drafts to get to their final draft so you need time on your side! That means they need to start draft one to get to draft two and so on and so forth. This is not something you should wait until the last minute to complete. On top of this, by the time a student is about to enter their senior year, they are typically now involved in more activities than ever, taking on their most difficult courses, and have the most active social life. This means that you’ll need to fit college applications on top of it all, so be sure to start early.
There many things that can be done over the next year to make this an easier process. Every student is unique and different; it’s time to put a plan together and make it happen. Get started today!
by Michelle Mai and Jessica Brown
College Planning Source