Planning for College – Winter

Planning for College.

How does it happen so fast? Here we are in December; for many students, it is already halfway through the academic year! Whether in Grades 9, 10, 11, or 12, it’s time to take stock of what you have achieved in recent months and plan for the critical months ahead. While there is no ‘right’ way to prepare for applying to college, the pointers in this blog should help you keep on track.

Grade 9 and 10/ Freshman and Sophomore.

The winter break is a good point for taking stock of what you have been doing over the last few months and ensuring you are prepared for the rest of the academic year. However, it is also time to make some longer-term plans.

  • If you have received or are about to receive an end-of-semester report, try not to look at it as teachers handing out marks. Instead, try to draw satisfaction from the things that have gone well and learn where they haven’t. If you are struggling, ask your teachers where your gaps in understanding are and put a plan in place to go over those topics again.

  • Many students find the move from Grade 8 to 9 a challenge, particularly managing to keep on track and up to date with their work. If this sounds like you, I encourage you to use a planner to help you use your time more effectively. At Ivy Central, we like using the free downloadable templates from Passion Planner.

  • Keep playing an active part in lessons; remember, you don’t want to be the one sitting at the back, not contributing until you are asked.

  • If you need help, ask!

  • If you are in Grade 10, you should consider what subjects to do in Grades 11 and 12. Take the time to research the options you are interested in; does the coursework interest you? Will it be helpful for what you want to study at college or university? Are there any specific subject requirements for any career you might be interested in?

  • December is the month when many competitive summer programs open for applications. Spending your summer participating in one of these programs can help build your application profile, so consider spending a few weeks deep diving into a topic that interests you or perhaps working on a research project alongside a Ph.D. student.

  • Continue with extra-curricular activities you are involved with; are there new things you would like to try? 

Grade 11/Junior Year.

In many ways, this is when your application season begins. Grade 12 have just about finished their applications, so teachers and counselors switch their focus toward those in Grade 11.

  • If you still need to build a college list, now is the time to start. You can begin by creating a long list of colleges you would consider applying to. These may be ones you have heard about; perhaps a relative went there or is there now. Then, you can use respected sources on the internet to help you explore them in more detail.

  • Talk to your family about any considerations they would like you to consider when looking at colleges. For example, they may want you to focus your college search on particular parts of the US or insights into what type of college will best fit you.

  • One area that can be more difficult to discuss with parents is how your college will be funded. Attending college is expensive, around $40,000 to $60,000, depending on the college, so having a clear understanding of what your family can afford at the beginning of your search can save you time and heartache.

  • As with students in Grades 9 and 10, now is the time to apply for a competitive summer program.

  • Grade 11 is when most of our students will sit an SAT or ACT test. If you didn’t do the test during the first few months of Grade 11, then the next sitting of the SAT will be in March and will be the first of the ‘new’ style SATs. If you have not done so, download the online SAT Bluebook, which has four complete practice tests to help you prepare. The next ACT test will be in early February. 

Grade 12/Senior Year

Crunch time! If you applied early to any colleges, you should have heard back from them by the middle of December; if you have been accepted, congratulations, you are going to college. On the other hand, if you didn’t apply, have been rejected, or were deferred from your early applications, it’s all to play for.

  • The end of December sees the start of the Regular Decision (RD) round of applications. Before you submit your application go over it again. If you were rejected from your early applications, can you see why? Consider your college list. If you were not accepted in the early round, ensure that all the colleges you apply to RD are not of a similar level, and ensure you have a safety or two.

  • If you have been deferred from the early round, don’t let that stop you from applying to other colleges in the hope that your deferment will convert into an acceptance. Instead, send a Letter of Continued Interest (LCI) to your deferred college in January, letting them know that you still want to go there and updating them with the great things you have achieved since your initial application.

  • Keep motivated. Once all your college applications have been submitted, you can ease off a little on the school work, but try to avoid it. Colleges can and do withdraw offers of places from students who don’t perform as well as expected in their final assessments. Evidence suggests that students whose final grades are lower than expected are more likely to drop out of college.

Working with study abroad consultants, overseas education consultants or as more commonly known, college counselors can help you plan ahead and make those high school years count. Ivy Central offers exceptional focus to help you prepare for college admissions throughout the high-schooling years. Start today!

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