Thought we’d share some local events from a few very popular schools. If you can’t get to campus, you should 100% connect with schools when they come to your area, in addition to being in touch via email. It’s a great way to learn about the school and its programs as well as demonstrate interest. Email us if there are other schools you want to see added to this list!
The school year is almost here! Enjoy the final few weeks of summer. And, if you are a rising senior and want to make the most of August (this means completing applications!) contact us! We can help you head back to school with a long list of college application items checked off your to-do list.
Here’s what should be on your radar this month:
The Common App refresh is complete. If you have not done so already, register for the Common App (www.commonapp.org) and other school-specific applications as per your list (for example, the University of California), and fill them out.
Continue to complete essays!!! Senior year fall grades count. The more you complete before you go back to school, the more time you should have for your coursework.
Continue to visit colleges and connect with students, faculty, and staff. Remember to interview where applicable and take lots of notes. The information you gather is often perfect material for supplemental “Why School” essays and interest letters after you apply!
Begin to finalize your college list. It’s important to know which colleges you’ll be applying to so you can a) work on essays and b) finalize application strategy (when you will apply and where). Will you be applying early action? Early decision? Do you have an ED II school in the mix (you should instead of relying on RD)? If you still have tests to take in August, September, or October, confirm your EA schools and work on those apps.
Touch base with the teachers writing your letters of recommendation. They will be very busy once school starts; be proactive and drop them a note now reiterating your thanks, as well as letting them know when you plan to submit your first apps (this can be far in advance of actual deadlines, for example, in September if testing is complete).
If you haven’t done so already, schedule a meeting to discuss your 11th-grade game plan with your guidance counselor. Your counselor will write you a letter of recommendation for college, so make an effort to get to know them and for them to get to know you.
This year, try to get more involved with 1-2 main extracurricular activities (bonus if these support your academic interest). Look for leadership opportunities, but also keep in mind demonstrating leadership goes beyond leading a club or team. Consider activities outside of school as well.
Now is the time to plan 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? Please contact us if you would like suggestions for tutors and other prep resources. Now is the time to start test prep!
Once you have some test scores, come up with a preliminary college list, so you can…
Begin to visit the websites of the schools you are interested in. Explore the admissions and academics pages. Start to think about your major of interest and how the activities you are involved in support it. You 100% should be exploring your academic interests outside of your coursework.
Fall is a great time to visit colleges and engage in extended research and outreach. Over the years, I have found that students who take these “extra steps” consistently get into their top schools…and many more.
Sophomores & Freshmen
An impressive academic record is the most important admissions factor for 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 lovely options, but keep in mind you don’t need to do it all.
Schedule a meeting to discuss your high school game plan with your counselor. Your 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 most significant factors in a 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.
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!
We’ve seen too many students wait until the summer after 11th grade to try to develop and implement the strategies needed to tackle the college application process successfully and with ease. Often, there is just not enough time to do the pre-work that results in the most effective essays, outreach, and positive admissions outcomes.
The best time to start prepping to apply? Now. Seriously!
Juniors, right now you can:
Develop relationships with admissions officers and regional reps (the people that make key decisions on your application) as well as current students and faculty (ask us why these connections are so important)
Create a testing plan that has you ready for apps due on 11/1 and not taking tests last minute
Make the best of campus visits and leverage contacts at colleges on these visits
Craft a preliminary college list that maximizes the 5+ application plans colleges now use
If you have RD applications due in mid-January that you did not submit, finish those up ASAP. Same goes for 2/1 deadline apps; there is no reason to wait!
For RD schools, consider writing interest letters, and make sure your school sends midterm grade reports where required.
If you were deferred, work on your deferral letter this month and aim to send it mid-month.
Thank everyone who helped you with your college process, and take some time to enjoy what is left of high school.
Testing: Once you are in prep-mode it is best to just keep going. The sooner you are finished testing, the sooner you can begin to finalize your college list. If you have a preliminary list, February break is a great time to visits colleges. Plan some visits.
Confirm your summer plans. Next summer is a wonderful opportunity to do something really meaningful (and perhaps even fun!) that will help you tell your story to colleges.
Open a Common App account. Accounts rollover year-to-year, so there’s no better time than now to open an account and familiarize yourself with the system.
Start to think about your senior year schedule. Do you know what you will be taking? Your senior classes should be the most challenging of your four years.
Resolve to check your email daily. Why? Colleges communicate with students via email. Most schools track whether you open emails and if you click through them; more engagement is seen as more interest (schools use interest in the admissions process). Make checking and engaging with any college-related email a habit in 2019.
Sophomores & Freshmen:
Are you planning to take SAT subject tests in May or June? If so, come up with a prep plan now.
An impressive academic record is the most important admissions factor at most colleges. Study hard.
Speaking of courses, when do you pick your courses for 11th grade? Keep in mind you want to take a more rigorous course schedule each year.
Now is the time to build your story for college! Have you gotten more involved with any of your extracurricular activities? Have you thought about what you might want to major in? A great place to start exploring your academic interests is Khan Academy.
One way that your “story” is conveyed in your app is through your resume. Work on your resume now.
Many 2019 summer program applications will open soon. Begin thinking about your plans for summer 2019 now so you can get ahead of deadlines and work on applications if needed.
Replace one hour of social media, Netflix, or TV per week with time on Ted ED. Explore what intrigues you! Maybe it’s the history of cheese, particle physics, or what makes a poem a poem. Whatever you find interesting, take some time to be intentional about learning more in the new year!
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It’s ideal to tour colleges in the fall or spring, but it is often hard to get away during those times with crazy sports and extracurricular schedules, standardized testing, family trips and so on. When school’s out for summer, many students and parents have much more time to get to college campuses. If you are planning to visit campuses this summer, keep in mind:
Not all schools offer Saturday info sessions and tours. Try to visit when you can go on a tour and attend an info session. All of this information can be found online on schools respective admissions websites.
Interview. Fewer people tour in the summer, which means fewer people are on campus interviewing. Use this to your advantage. Do not miss out on the opportunity to interview on campus if you have had time to adequately prepare. Everyone should prepare for admissions interviews!!! You only get one chance to make a first impression—and though interviews are not the most important component of your app, a killer one can certainly help.
Attend a class. Some schools have very active summer sessions, while others do not. There may not be a formal class visit program offered through admissions during the summer months, but you can still reach out to a faculty member and ask if it is okay to sit in on their class. You can also call and check with your department of interest (for example, the Math Department if you intend to major in math) and see if they can hook you up with permission to sit in on a class.
Connect with and possibly meet with someone from your department of interest. Colleges are open in the summer, even if they don’t look too busy. Call or email your department of interest a few weeks ahead of time. Someone from the department may help you out with sitting in on a class, as well as be willing to speak to you personally or steer you in the direction of any other departmental opportunities that might be available during your visit.
Check the calendar of events. Some college campuses are dead in the summer, while others have a lot going on beyond summer session classes. If there is something going on that interests you, try to check it out. This information could make a nice addition to a why school essay.
Take pictures, take notes, and get the names, emails, and numbers of everyone you meet. Send thank you emails, or a handwritten note to your interviewer. In many cases, you’ll need this info if you end up applying.
Don’t forget to check out the surrounding city, town, or suburb. Keep in mind, in some areas, folks head out of town for the summer. If it feels dead, ask around to find out if this is the case or if it’s like that all of the time.
Remember, campuses located in Florida are not always as hot as they are in the summer, and those in Minnesota are not always as hot as they are in the summer (it gets REALLY cold there!!!). Keep in mind the “normal” temp of the school and that how a campus feels in the summer might not be how it feels when you will be there studying.
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Although there are some hilarious truths to College Humor’s video, I still suggest visiting the schools on your list. Here are some suggestions for campus visits:
Scheduling Your Trip
Pick a time that’s convenient for you, but try to go when classes are in session. That way, you can sit in on a class, eat lunch with a current student, etc. You’ll only get a true feel for the campus if you’re there on a day when classes are in full swing.
Monday through Thursday is ideal. If possible, try to visit during high school holidays that fall on Mondays, when most colleges are in session.
Find out how often college tours run, and if you have to sign up in advance.
If an interview is offered (always interview if offered), you’ll likely need to make an appointment. Also, consider meeting with a financial aid officer if you will be applying for aid.
If you’re curious about a club, program, or sport, arrange to attend a practice, rehearsal, or club meeting. The same goes for your academic department of interest; reach out ahead of time and see if you can meet faculty or staff while on campus.
When Not to Go
Try to avoid Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas week, winter and spring break, and of course, summer (end of May, June, July, first two weeks of August). If you can only visit during the summer months, try to go on a day when there are full visit programs geared toward freshmen, if applicable.
Avoid visiting when classes aren’t meeting such as university reading period, exam weeks, weekends, and when the admission office is closed to visitors.
Research the College
It’s important to know something about the college before you arrive on campus, especially if you have an interview scheduled or plan to meet with academic departments or faculty.
Review the website, course catalogs, and any other materials the college sends to prospective students or that are available to you online.
Talk to People and Take Notes
Make a list of what characteristics are most important to you, so you know what to evaluate. Do you feel overwhelmed in a large lecture hall? Check out the class size. Is there a particular major that you want to pursue? Review the department website and swing by when on campus if you were not able to schedule a meeting ahead of time.
Talk to current students or professors and send follow-up emails (and thank you notes/emails).
Talk to admissions officers if possible; make sure to get their card/contact info and follow up with a thank you email or handwritten note.
Was it X College or Y University that had an awesome library/gym/biology lab? Where did I talk to that psychology professor? You think you’ll remember everything, but you’ll be surprised how colleges start to blend after you’ve seen a few. So…
TAKE NOTES at each school about what you liked and disliked, the places on campus you saw that impressed you, the names of the dorms, library, etc.! Takes notes on everything. This info will come in handy when it comes time to write “why school” and other supplemental essays/interest/defer letters!
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