Back to school and back to reality! September means it's time for high school seniors to get down to business. There is a lot to accomplish in order to get ready for application season. As for juniors, it's time to buckle down and get yourself organized. Don't know what you should be doing in order to prep for college? We've outlined some suggestions for seniors and juniors for the month of September.
High School Seniors
Senior year is a special year where you can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. The first few months will be a little stressful but once the spring rolls around you'll be in good shape to coast stress-free until graduation (while keeping your grades up, of course!). At this point you should start to narrow down your college list. You ought to include a combination of reach, target and safety schools on your list, totaling about 4-8 schools. It is important to make sure you will be satisfied at your safety schools in case that's where you end up attending school.
Application season is upon us, so gather your application materials and go through them with a fine tooth comb. Start by creating a final draft of your resume. Include all jobs and activities you were involved in and list out accomplishments and awards. If there are any activities that pertain to your desired field of study, put that towards the top! Don't know where to begin or how to design your resume? Download a resume template here!
One of the biggest components of your college application is your essay. This is where you have the opportunity to speak about yourself in a way that can't be seen anywhere else on your application. The Common Application and individual college applications typically have one or more questions that they would like you to answer in the form of a short essay. Draft your essays and begin to proofread them. Have a friend and teacher take a close look. The more eyes that read over your essay, the better.
Lastly, ask your teachers and school counselors for letters of recommendation at least a month before your application is due. When you request a letter of recommendation, also give your teachers a copy of your resume. They may have to write a lot of recommendations and the details between students can get murky. Give them a helping hand by reminding them of all of your interests and achievements in your resume! If you're not sure who to ask for a letter of recommendation, this blog will help you decide.
High School Juniors
If you haven't already, start studying for your SAT/ACT tests as well as Advanced Placement tests, if applicable. In order to make sure you have a spot on test day, register online and choose your desired date and location. The sooner you take the SAT/ACT tests, the more opportunities you'll have to take them over if you are not satisfied with your initial results.
Junior year is one of your most important years in high school. College admission counselors base a large amount of their decision on your academic performance from your junior year, so study hard and put in 100% effort. At this stage it is also a good idea to stay involved in your local community, clubs, sports or volunteering opportunities. If you feel comfortable enough, take on a leadership role! Admissions counselors want to see that students are well-rounded.
Now that you have your academics under control and you participate in outside activities, it's time to become more familiar with colleges by doing research online and by visiting campuses. Attending college fairs (like the RISLA College Planning Center's fair held on 9/20/18 at McCoy Stadium!) are a good way to discover schools that may be a good fit for you. At the fair, take notes about colleges and grab free materials. After attending, make a list of which schools stuck out most to you and why. When conducting your research, be sure to factor in your probability of being accepted at the institution and what activities/clubs are available to students. Don't get nit-picky until your senior year when it comes time to send out applications.
If you want someone to look over your college essay or to help you compile a list of schools that fit your selection criteria, book a free appointment online with the RISLA College Planning Center. Our college planning counselors will help you navigate the college process with ease.