During senior year of high school, many teenagers struggle to focus on anything except their graduation and life beyond. Others are dreading college applications and want to procrastinate on it like it’s just another homework assignment.
It’s not too late for your child to accomplish everything necessary for college applications, but they really need to get the ball rolling immediately if they haven’t already started. Universities have various deadlines, but in general there’s a timeline and a set of steps you can expect
Consider the following advice on college planning for parents to make sure your high school senior is taking care of paperwork and setting themselves up for success in admissions – while also hunting for the perfect school.
Take the test
The College Board and ACT have strict deadlines and specific dates when the SAT and ACT tests are offered. Taking the standardized tests ASAP is important for all students, even for those who have their hearts set on one school which they know they’ll get into. Test scores can be used for early admission and scholarship consideration, and if your child scores much higher than expected they might want to broaden their horizons for applications.
Keep up the hard work in class
Make sure your child understands that senior year grades do matter. Admissions boards might see a dip in grades as a sign that they lack a strong commitment to academics or have a poor work ethic in general. An improvement in grades can even look like the student is gaining ground in their study habits.
Make a list of deadlines
Use a good planner or create a spreadsheet with the important dates and information about target schools. Even within Rhode Island, schools’ dates and requirements can vary a lot. It helps to know key dates for admissions, financial aid, campus visits, and even the topic of each school’s entry essay(s!). College planning for students with less-organized habits will especially benefit from taking care of this aspect.
Attend info sessions and tours
It’s worth checking out a campus in person. Meeting the staff and s
eeing the current students can also help your child figure out where they’ll actually feel most comfortable. The University of Rhode Island has fall tours many days of the week from September 16 through December 6, for example. Many colleges in RI and elsewhere offer tours and have special weekend events. Also make sure to attend college fairs or other events at your local high school.
Ask for letters of recommendation ASAP
Be thoughtful about who provides letters of recommendation and make sure your child asks them soon. Teachers who get the lion’s share of requests will need especially ample time. If the teacher feels like they’ve been put in a bind, it could at least subconsciously affect how glowing their review reads.
Be prepared for decisions along the way
Assuming your student applies to multiple schools, they may be faced with unexpected decisions to make. What if their second-choice pick offers a substantial scholarship package? Should they do early decision at a near-reach school? Some schools even request in-person interviews during the process. The applicant needs to be thoughtful and deliberating throughout the coming year.
More than anything, reading and research will help you determine how to approach specific schools. College planning for parents means keeping an open mind, letting your student explore options freely, and being ready to offer helpful guidance when necessary.
Want in person guidance on all topics of college planning? Free help is available. Make your appointment with the College Planning Center of RI today.