The first month of the calendar shines brightly with opportunity for a fresh start and a view to the year in front of us. When it comes to college planning, this is a fantastic time for students and parents to start anticipating quarter by quarter what to accomplish to advance to the next stages in the college process. Now is the moment to look to inspiration and energy and continue planning ahead!
Front and center, let’s start with our seniors…1. Prepare well in advance of mid-year exams. More than once, I’ve seen these results make or break a semester of classwork, testing and papers.
2. Per #1, keep up or improve grades -- especially if deferred in the initial admissions round. After having deferred an applicant, colleges will most likely search for evidence of academic progress via the second review.
3. Per #2, keep up grades even if admitted to an RD or ED college. After the admission letter arrives and a deposit is sent in, admitted students continue to remain under informal review because colleges almost always require a final senior transcript as evidence of continued, satisfactory academic progression.
4. Students should continue to update the colleges still reviewing their applications with useful updates such as awards; distinctions; or special projects.
Now for our juniors...
With one eye on the present and the other glancing a few paces in front, the KEY is to plan ahead and use time wisely.5. Plan campus visits at your earliest convenience and when colleges are in session. That usually means following winter break and before spring break, according to an individual school's schedule.
7. Pay attention to progress in current classes to best plan for senior year course levels.8. This is a wonderful time to consider stepping up extracurricular involvement, expanding leadership role, impact, etc. The more selective the college, the more important is a student track record of accomplishment outside of the classroom.
9. Summer already? These precious weeks can never come soon enough and before you know it, they’ve arrived! This is the time for juniors to begin summer planning, whether it is working close to home or away; developing a current business or project; test preparation; etc. etc.
10. Keeping up your grades is key to future success in high school and beyond.
If sophomores experience an academic challenge such as struggle in foreign language or math; difficulty in organizing or completing assignments, this is the time to raise the issue and look toward a new approach or solution. (Yes, good advice for freshmen too!)
11. No longer newbies in the high school, sophomores are wise to think about their interests in or out of their school and develop these enjoyably and meaningfully.
Wishing ALL students and parents a healthy, happy and fulfilled 2019!!!
Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admission process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC. Contact Marla via www.achievecoach.com
Are minutes in the day shrinking or is the calendar just moving faster? Sometimes it feels like both are happening. Seniors in the midst of finalizing early applications know this better than anyone -- while high school junior, sophomore and freshman parents are astonished at the fact that their students are moving up the high school ranks en route to their college futures.
In reality, the college process has sped up in many regards, with all students in my practice completing at least one early application. For juniors, early fall is a great time to gain a head start on pieces of the college process and optimal for seeing schools when the weather is still good and academic obligations have yet to pile up.
Most seniors are done with application tasks by now -- but not all. Some students are still making campus visits and re-visits as well as making one final attempt to boost SAT/ACT scores. For juniors ready to step into their college process, it's worth taking time during the next couple of months for the following:
1. Register and prep for standardized testing
Chances are a student will be required to take either the SAT or the ACT as a condition of application to at least one intended college. Some students align with and focus exclusively on one of these tests, while others try out both to see which one best fits their testing style. At the very least, it's smart to visit the SAT or ACT websites to sample the style and types of questions one may encounter on these exams. Most students will begin testing during the winter of junior year, if not earlier, espeically if their winter and spring schedules are full with extracurriculars.
2. Schedule campus visits
It takes more than a little planning to organize student and parent calendars in order to make campus visits a priority. With busy weekends full of homework, projects, athletic and family obligations, campus visits may easily slide onto the back burner. Before you can say "summer’s here,” senior year has arrived with its own set of priorities that may tighten up schedules even more. Besides, it’s best to visit schools during the normal ebb and flow of the academic year rather than during summer break when there are typically few students in attendance. Prospective applicants need to view campus life in action, in part, to determine a good college fit.
3. Don't ask teachers yet for college recommendations…
... but start to consider the fact that most schools require at least one academic teacher's evaluation. Students should begin to think about connecting in some way with teachers and how to get to know them better in or out of the classroom -- or both.
The college process is made up of many more steps than mentioned here, but with these three items underway students and parents are off to a good start! ________________________________________________________________
With nearly half of the school year in the rear view mirror, many juniors are thinking about what’s to come in the remaining months. If you’re blessed with a “glass half-full” perspective, high school juniors have a whole 5 - 6 months in front of them to make good progress on their college plans. Many students kick off 2018 with several excellent opportunities at their disposal, most of which require good planning and smart use of our most precious and fleeting resource: time.
What to Focus On Now
With mid-year exams on the horizon, one of the best plans of action now is to gain an early start in prepping for these exams. In my practice, I note that a large number of students find that the precious ground they’ve gained in a semester of classroom success is later dampened by a lesser midterm exam grade. Too many students pay too little attention to a significant exam that could push their semester grade up or down several quality points, potentially affecting the GPA. Hindsight can’t override a C+ on a midterm exam that brings down a student's A- work somewhere into the B or B+ range.KEY: Begin to gradually prepare for mid year exams. Don’t cram!
More and more, rising early action (EA) or early decision (ED) applications are impacting the college admissions landscape at colleges and universities across the nation.
The application calendar continues to push back toward early in the senior year, with some colleges using a slightly different set of admissions criteria or aiming to fill seats in the early rounds. Others employ the early schedule to manage their inflows both in the admissions office as well as in the financial aid office.
Early applicants typically find themselves in a smaller pool than do regular decision applicants, hence admissions officers may be able to devote more time to reading each individual application, potentially resulting in a more nuanced review. In addition, since ED becomes a binding commitment to attend once the student is admitted, students who pursue this route are thereby indicating to the college that the school is the student’s clear first choice. For those schools that aim to fill a significant percentage of seats in the early rounds, applying ED may enable the applicant a higher likelihood of admission versus waiting to submit an application with a much larger regular decision (RD) pool.
Still, some schools pursue a policy of accepting only "stand-out" applicants in the early rounds, more often than not deferring these applicants to the RD rounds. Deferred applications are later reviewed, enabling colleges to make decisions across a larger and complete pool of applicants.
Given that students applying ED are at the time of application making a commitment to attend regardless of financial need, it is commonly said that ED is the bastion of those who have the means to pay for college without the need to compare favorable merit, grant or loan awards. ED may also appeal to those students who have begun their college process relatively early and/or have taken the time to visit individual campuses to enable a single-choice focus.
Although not all colleges offer ED or EA schedules, there is no controversy around the stark reality that, generally speaking, ED or EA policies help drive applications to colleges. Given the growing numbers of early applications many colleges have been seeing over the last several admissions cycles, the clock on the college timeline ticks on with the trend toward early application likely to continue. READ MORE
While one size never fits all in the world of college admissions, this article from The New York Times explores a broad range of factors that come into play. Diversity... legacy... ability to pay... unique interests... . In the admissions office, these all are fair game at the time of application review.
In today's landscape, obvious academic credentials as evidenced by grades in a rigorous curriculum supported by solid standardized test scores typically lay the foundation for a student's application. But on top of these, admissions offices at competitive colleges may look for evidence of character traits or habits of mind viewed via commitment; giving to others; resilience; curiosity; motivation; leadership.
Ideally, a student's application communicates a story about who that teen is today and how she or he is likely to "show up" on campus during the course of the undergraduate career. Expect to see students evaluated holistically and in keeping with the mission of any particular institution.
by Marla Platt, AchieveCoach College Consulting
Parents of high school juniors: Congratulations! In a few short weeks you will attain official status as a parent of a rising high school senior.
While our juniors are currently focused on final projects, papers and exams, (and the joy of handing in the last of the bunch!) they also have an eye on the next important stage in their education: preparing to engage fully in the college process.
In preparation for moving smoothly through stages of getting ready to apply to college, by now your student should:
Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com