By Mary Miele

Ready to have a college game plan? Tonight I gave a webinar on this topic and I’m including the information I provided during the course here in this article.

UNDERSTAND THE SKILLS NEEDED TO THRIVE IN COLLEGE

Students in college will need to have strong reading and writing as well as study skills. They will have less class time and fewer check-ins with teachers. Students will need to employ self-advocacy and executive functioning. And, they will need to have strong social, emotional, and physical care skills. 

DETERMINE WHAT SCHOOLS YOU WILL CONSIDER AND WHAT TESTS YOU WILL TAKE

The following resources may be helpful.

MAKE A PLAN AND CARRY IT OUT

Many families we have helped benefit from three tools when planning for their college process:

  • Calendar – create one that is shared between parents and applicant as well as advisors and test preparation tutors
  • Notebook – keep notes on schools and contact information together in one place.
  • Make time to work through the process – create blocks of time to study for ACT/SAT, use the summertime to write the personal statement, and take time to sit down together and talk about the process and to make decisions.

ASSESS

Evaluate your progress within test preparation as well as the college search. Mock testing can be extremely important when determining how a student is progressing through test preparation.

Here is a timeline of sorts to help aid in the college process. By breaking down each academic year in this way, it makes the process more manageable and organized.

YEAR BY YEAR GUIDE

Freshman Year

  • Make sure the courses selected are the most challenging in which the student can still perform well in; the rigor of academic course-load is highly scrutinized by college admissions
  • Create an account with the College Board
  • If eligible for extended time, apply through the College Board to ensure approval before junior year
  • Get involved in extracurricular and leadership activities in school as well as outside of school (i.e. sports teams, student government, community service, clubs)

Sophomore Year

  • Take the PSAT in October as a baseline; familiarity with a test accounts for a potential increase in points when taken again
  • If taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses, consider taking the SAT Subject Test in June; some selective colleges require 2-3 SAT Subject Tests
  • Begin to visit colleges and universities with varying characteristics; large vs. small, urban vs. rural, private vs. public
  • Explore potential career interests
  • Attend local College Fairs
  • Consider getting a summer job or internship

Junior Year

  • Take the PSAT a second time in October
  • Decide which standardized test(s) (SAT or ACT) to take, register for test(s), and begin to prepare for the test(s)
  • Create an activities resume; quality is more important than quantity for extracurriculars
  • Continue to visit colleges and universities
  • Research different programs and academics at a variety of colleges and universities
  • Make an initial list of colleges and universities of interest
  • Choose and ask two teachers to write recommendations for the fall of senior year
  • If taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses, consider taking the SAT Subject Test in June; some selective colleges require 2-3 SAT Subject Tests
  • During the summer between junior and senior year, create a Common Application account
  • During the summer between junior and senior year, write a draft of the personal statement
  • Consider getting a summer job or internship

Senior Year

  • Continue to take challenging courses; senior year grades count!
  • Finalize a well-balanced list of 5-8 schools that you want to apply to
  • Register and prepare for SAT or ACT if retaking the exam
  • Create a schedule with all needed materials (recommendations, transcript, etc.) and deadlines (rolling admissions, early decision, early action, etc.)
  • Look at different admission requirements for each school
  • Meet with a school counselor to discuss their recommendation
  • Request for the transcript be sent to schools
  • Complete and send the applications
  • File the FASFA form for financial aid and apply for private merit-based scholarships

Take the time to make a college game plan with Evolved Education today! Contact us at info@staging2.evolveded.com or 917-388-3862.