October Monthly Action Plan – By Grade

College crunch time for seniors and things are gearing up for juniors, too! Here’s what should be on your radar this month.

Seniors:

  • Have official standardized test scores sent to all of the colleges on your list, if required; please send scores now, so they arrive before deadlines. Not all schools require you send officials anymore. Please review the list here and the links therein to confirm:

https://www.compassprep.com/self-reporting-test-scores/

  • Finalize your essays and application data. Plan on submitting applications well in advance of deadlines.
  • Meet with your school guidance counselor to discuss your applications and have them review your essays and application data. It is always smart to have a different set of eyes help with final reviews.
  • Follow up with the teachers writing your letters of recommendation and let them know if you are submitting apps early. The sooner they submit after you submit, the better.
  • Study for any remaining standardized tests (SAT, ACT, SAT Subjects). Remember to note future test dates on your applications.
  • Take part in interviews when offered. Read more about interviews and how to prep, here.

Juniors:

  • Visit the websites of the schools you are interested in. While there, explore the admissions and academics pages. Start to think about your major of interest and how the activities you are involved in support this interest.
  • When you look at your resume, is it clear what your academic interests are? If yes, then your academic narrative is developed. If not, try to get involved in some activities that make it clear what you are interested in academically. A clear-cut academic narrative is beneficial; if you are undecided, then you should be exploring multiple interests. It is okay to be undecided so long as you are out there working on finding your niche.
  • You should be taking the PSAT in October. If you would like to do some prep (totally optional!), check out these resources:

https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/psat-nmsqt-psat-10/practice 

https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/sat/new-sat-tips-planning/new-sat-how-to-prep/a/full-length-psat-nmsqt

  • Will you need SAT Subject Tests? How many and which ones? When might you take them? Have you formally started test prep? Determine your testing plan now.
  • Meet with your school guidance counselor. S/he will write one of your letters of recommendation for college, and the letter will be much more personal if you know each other! Talk about your plans for this year and next year.
  • Visit colleges in person if possible! Fall is a great time to visit colleges.

Sophomores:

  • An impressive academic record is the most important admissions factor at most colleges. A rigorous but academically fitting course schedule shows intellectual curiosity, a willingness to challenge yourself, and that you are comfortable with hard work. It also shows that you understand your strength and your weaknesses. Your number one priority this year should be your grades!
  • If you haven’t done so already, get involved in activities inside and outside of school. Seek out opportunities to develop leadership roles. Depth, not breadth of experience, is key. Most colleges prefer to see fewer activities, but ones that really interest you, where you are involved in a significant way. Evidence of leadership, initiative, commitment, and meaningful engagement is important. You may also want to consider an internship, research position, job shadowing opportunity or part-time employment in an area that interests you. Starting your own club, website, or community service project is also a great way to get involved. Remember, passions are not necessarily inherent, waiting to be found, but rather they are cultivated.
  • It is a good idea to keep track of all of your activities and both inside and outside of school. If you have not started your resume, please do so now.
  • If you haven’t done so already, schedule a meeting to discuss your high school game plan with your guidance counselor. Your guidance or college counselor will write you a letter of recommendation when it comes time to apply to college, so make an effort to get to know them and for them to get to know you.

Freshmen:

  • Enjoy the start of high school! Have fun and make an effort to do well in school and get involved in extracurriculars. Thinking about trying something new? Go for it.
  • High school can be a lot more challenging academically than high school, and starting off on the right foot academically is important. If you are ever struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to your teachers, talk to your parents, and get a tutor if needed.

 

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September Monthly Action Plan – By Grade

Seniors:

  • Complete your Common App (www.commonapp.org) and begin/complete any other school-specific applications if you are applying to schools that are not on the CA (Georgetown, U of California schools, UT to name just a few).
  • Finalize your application strategy: Will you apply early action? Early decision? Most early deadlines are November 1 or later, but a few schools have mid-October deadlines. Plan to submit all applications well in advance of deadlines.
  • Keep writing! If you started essays this summer, you should have quite a few completed by this time. Please do not save essay writing (or any part of this process) for the last minute.
  • Meet with your school counselor to discuss your counselor letter, finalize your college list, confirm your teacher recommendations, and go over your application strategy.
  • Talk to your letter of recommendation writers and make sure they are aware of your early deadlines.
  • If your school hosts a college fair or individual college visits, please attend and meet the reps from the schools on your list. If you have already met them, it is still beneficial to stop by and say hello to demonstrate interest.
  • Continue to visit colleges if necessary. Make sure visits are official (sign in at the Admissions Office). Make the most of your visits by talking to professors and students, or sitting in on a class. If you meet someone, get their contact info and send a follow-up email thanking them for their time and reiterating your excitement about the school (if you plan to apply). If you have not done some extended research/outreach for your top choice schools, you are running out of time.
  • Remember, if the schools on your list have on-campus or local interviews that are candidate-initiated, you must schedule them. Check the schools on your list. All of this information is provided on schools’ admissions websites.
  • Remember to send schools your official test scores (ACT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests) if required when you apply; most schools require official scores. Self-reported scores on applications are not official scores.
  • Remember to read the application instructions for the schools on your list!

 

Juniors:

  • If your school hosts a college fair or individual college visits, please attend and meet the reps from the schools that might be on your list.
  • Now is the time to plan out the rest of junior year in terms of testing. When will you take the ACT or SAT? Will you need SAT Subject Tests? How many and which ones? When might you take them? Have you started formal test prep? Now is the time to start.
  • Although I do not suggest formally prepping for the PSAT, if you would like to get a sense of what is on the test, you can read more here: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/psat-nmsqt-psat-10/practice
  • Meet with your school guidance counselor. S/he will write one of your letters of recommendation for college and it’s a much more personal letter if you actually know each other. Talk about your plans for this year and next year; let them know about your preliminary college list, any visits you have scheduled, and your testing plan.
  • Visit colleges in person. Fall is a great time to visit colleges!
  • Visit the websites of the schools you are interested in, and explore the admissions and academics pages. Start to think about your major(s) of interest and how the activities you are involved in support these interests. Remember, depth, not breadth of experience, is key. Most colleges prefer to see fewer activities, but ones that really interest you, where you are involved in a significant way. Evidence of leadership, initiative, commitment, and meaningful engagement is important.  You may also want to consider an internship, research position, job shadowing opportunity or part-time employment in an area that interests you. Starting your own club, website, or community service project are also nice options, but keep in mind you don’t need to do it all.
  • Have you gotten more involved with any of your extracurricular activities? Look for leadership opportunities in school clubs but consider activities outside of school as well.

 

Sophomores and Freshmen:

  • An impressive academic record is the most important admissions factor at the majority of colleges. A rigorous course schedule that is in line with your strengths can help demonstrate intellectual curiosity, a willingness to challenge yourself, and that you are comfortable with hard work. Your number one priority this year should be your grades!
  • If you haven’t done so already, get involved in activities inside and outside of school. Seek out opportunities to develop leadership roles. Depth, not breadth of experience, is key. Most colleges prefer to see fewer activities, but ones that really interest you, where you are involved in a significant way. Evidence of leadership, initiative, commitment, and meaningful engagement is important.  You may also want to consider an internship, research position, job shadowing opportunity or part-time employment in an area that interests you.  Starting your own club, website, or community service project are also nice options, but keep in mind you don’t need to do it all.
  • Many schools allow 10th graders to take a practice PSAT.  The experience of taking the PSAT as a sophomore will give you a sense of what to expect on future exams. However, don’t feel like you need to study for this test. It is just practice!
  • If you haven’t done so already, schedule a meeting to discuss your high school game plan with your guidance counselor. Your guidance or college counselor will write you a letter of recommendation when it comes time to apply to college, so make an effort to get to know them and for them to get to know you.
  • One of the biggest factors in strong performance on the verbal portions of the SAT and the ACT is independent reading. Enhancing your skills during high school will not only help you perform better on college entrance exams, but it will also prepare you for success in college and beyond. Regular reading of articles and editorials (e.g., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist) in addition to studying vocabulary lists and signing up for “Word/Article/SAT Question of the Day” can have a significant positive impact.

 

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June Monthly Action Plan – By Grade

Seniors:

Congrats on your graduation! Enjoy a summer free of college applications.

Juniors: 

Time to get to kick it into high gear!

  • It might seem like a silly piece of advice, but many students are not aware that each school has a set of application instructions that are not located on the application. I suggest you read them on each schools admissions website prior to tackling the application process.
  • Many colleges don’t proactively ask for online resources yet, but you may have an interest in creating a digital portfolio (LinkedIn, SoundCloud, personal website, and/or blog). Now is a great time to work on these extras, as well as your formal resume.
  • As you begin your essay work, consider opening a Common App account. Unlike in past years, if you open up an account now, it will not be deleted before August 1, 2018. You can read more about account rollover here.

Sophomores:

  • Continue working on your resume.
  • Thinking about how to explore your academic interests this summer? There are tons of options, and you should be doing something “academic” this summer if possible. Please note: something “academic” is not limited to a class or formal academic program. Have questions? Contact us to discuss.
  • Interested in understanding what exactly the Common Application is and how it works? Unlike in past years, if you open up an account now, it will not be deleted at the end of this application season. You can read more about account rollover here.
  • Summer before junior year is a great time to begin test prep! Here are a few resources to get you started:

PSAT

-https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/sat/new-sat-tips-planning/new-sat-how-to-prep/a/full-length-psat-nmsqt

ACT

-http://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act/test-preparation.html

-http://www.amazon.com/ACT-Prep-Black-Book-Strategies/dp/0692027912/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437782060&sr=8-1&keywords=act+prep+black+book

-http://www.amazon.com/The-Real-Edition-Prep-Guide/dp/076893432X/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_

SAT

-https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/sat

Freshmen:

  • Continue working on your resume. Consider exploring your academic interests — reading is a simple and easy way to do so!
  • Interested in understanding what exactly the Common Application is and how it works? Unlike in past years, if you open up an account now, it will not be deleted at the end of this application season. You can read more about account rollover here.
  • Looking for community engagement or volunteer opportunities? Something meaningful to get involved in that you might want to continue throughout high school, someplace where you might make a real difference? Ask upperclassmen how they spend their summers or check out https://www.idealist.org for opportunities near you.
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May Monthly Action Plan – By Grade

Seniors:

Congrats on deciding where you will be attending college if that is the path you are taking!

As graduation nears and high school comes to a close…enjoy yourself! Graduation signifies exciting new beginnings, but also change. Many of the people you are used to seeing every day at your high school are people you might not see often (or again in some cases), so make the most of spending time with these people (and your family!) the next few months.

Juniors:

Keeping it light this month during APs!

-As you wrap up testing, you should begin to think more about your list and application strategy. If you still have schools you want to visit, look ahead to the end of August and early fall to get the most out of campus visits. If you have to go during the summer months, read this post.

-Decide on your courses for next year, keep working on your resume/activity sheet, and firm up all summer plans.

-It is a busy time, but try to consider this process like a class from here on out. You’ll need to carve out time for it every week.

-Looking ahead…it is time for essays! Now would be a good time to start your personal statement. You can review the Common App prompts here and the Coalition prompts here. Start brainstorming.

Freshmen/Sophomores:

See a few additional notes below for “enrichment” activities.

-Focus on your grades. Your transcript is the most important part of your college application. If you have room for improvement, colleges want to see you improve! If you are struggling in any subject, do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help. 

-Continue working on your resume/activity sheet.
-Firm up your summer plans; make the most of summer! If you know you’ll have some free time on your hands…
-Looking for community engagement or volunteer opportunities? Something meaningful to get involved in that you might want to continue throughout high school, someplace where you might make a real difference? Ask upperclassmen how they spend their summers or check out https://www.idealist.org for opportunities near you.
-I am also a big fan of podcasts as learning tools and entertainment! Here are a few I recommend:

A great umbrella site, How Stuff Works includes BrainStuff (science), Stuff You Missed in History Class, Stuff of Genius (inventions), TechStuff and others. The approach here is like Radiolab, but more specialized by individual topic. You should be able to find a broadcast on just about any area of interest.

TED Talks podcasts. These cover a wide array of subjects and perspectives; this is a “something for everyone” site and the angle tends toward a combination of informative and inspirational.

If you’re looking for some more straight-up academic enrichment, you could check out Math Mutation, which takes an entertaining approach to its subject.

 

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March Action Plan – Freshmen/Sophomores

Sophomores and freshmen! Here’s what you can be working on this month:

  • Focus on your grades! Your transcript is the most important part of your college application.
  • Start to think about next year’s course schedule. Do you know what you will be taking? Your classes next year should be more challenging than this year.
  • Many 2018 summer program applications are now open (and some have already closed or will close soon). Please confirm your plans for summer 2018 now and work on any remaining applications if needed.
  • If you have not already, start to put together a resume/activity sheet. You want to begin to see the shape of your “story” for college developing, and this document should reflect it.

 

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March Action Plan – Seniors

Just a few reminders for seniors this month!

• Once your applications have been submitted, be sure to track the status of each app online to ensure all of your application materials were received. Check your junk email folder regularly (daily), so you do not miss correspondence from schools.

• If you have any updates to send colleges (recent academic or extracurricular achievements, updated grades/test scores), please send them ASAP as the application process is winding down and final decisions are being made at this time.

If you know where you are headed next fall, congrats!

As graduation nears and high school comes to a close…enjoy yourself! Graduation signifies exciting new beginnings, but also change. Many of the people you are used to seeing every day at your high school are people you might not see often (or again in some cases), so make the most of spending time with these people (and your family!) the next few months.

 

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March Action Plan – Juniors

The college process is in full swing! Here are a few things to have on your radar and work through this month:

  • You should be meeting with your counselor at school to talk about your college list, testing plan, and letters of recommendation.
  • If possible, fit in a few more college visits. Are you going to sit in on a class? Do you want to try to meet with someone in your intended department of interest (major, minor, etc.)? Not all schools offer formal pathways to these opportunities, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them happen.
  • Some colleges open up their on-campus interviews this spring. If you plan to interview, please prepare. You should always prepare for interviews, even if a school states they are not evaluative.
  • Do you know what major(s) you will mark on your application or is your strategy to go ‘undecided’? This is a critical part of the process that should be determined now.
  • Keep focusing on your grades, test prep, and strengthening your narrative through your extracurricular activities! By this time, you should have a plan for the summer and that plan should support your “story” for college.

 

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