Admit it: Any student accepted in a college class of 2017 will tell you it was hard work and they wished they had started sooner. The college-bound juniors working with Crisp Consulting + Coaching are already strategically preparing for college admissions. Standardized tests, college visits, academic scheduling and drafting essays are occupying their time. Although the class of 2017 is still in the admissions process, the initial numbers are shocking. Crisp Consulting + Coaching provides the following advice for juniors who want to stay on track during the college admissions process.
Prepare an inventory. Take an honest stock of who you are and what you want out of a four-year education. In this process, honesty will be essential. Ask yourself pivotal questions that will guide your college search: How do I learn best? What environmental, cultural or other influences truly matter? Why? In what kind of community do I hope to live for the next four years?
Prepare to meet and work with a college counselor. Examine what resources are available to you at your school. The college admissions process takes dedicated time and advocacy. If your are not being seen every two weeks by a school counselor, contact an educational consultant who can guide you throughout the process. These professionals, either independent or public, should be members of professional organizations such as the Higher Education Consultants Association, Independent Educational Consultants Association and the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (Crisp Consulting + Coaching is a member in good standing with all organizations).
Prepare your academic prowess. Admissions officers will want to see exemplary grades in a challenging curriculum as this will help them determine if you will succeed on their campuses. Most college courses are seminars with active student engagement and discussion. Let your teachers know when a topic ignites your curiosity. Pursue these interests outside of your courses. This will benefit your own understanding and prepare teachers in their writing of letters of recommendation. In addition, your course schedule should reflect rigorous courses in the traditional core academic subjects: English, math, science, history and foreign language.
Prepare for ACT, SAT, OMG! Schedule a meeting your your educational consultant, college counselor and parents to discuss and schedule college entrance exams. Many colleges accept either the ACT or the SAT. After determining which test would be most beneficial, register online for your preferred test date and site. Check the admissions and scholarship requirements as some will require SAT Subject Tests. Prepare for the tests by studying and taking practice tests. Get plenty of rest on the days leading up to the test and eat a healthy breakfast before each one.
Prepare an initial list. Now is the time to prepare an initial college application list. The first list should cast a wide net and contain 20 – 30 schools you would consider for more information. This is not your final list, but a first draft that will require more research and discussions. This research should included college fairs, guidebooks, websites, guidance counselors and educational consultants.
Prepare for college visits. The spring semester is a prime time to visit college campuses. This planning should be done in well in advance to prepare for a worthwhile experience. Visiting a campus offers you the opportunity to meet members of the campus community and explore the area surrounding the campus. Contact admissions offices to request their schedules for campus tours and information sessions.
Prepare your portfolio. Although it may be tempting to throw away papers from your English and history courses, yet do not. Many schools, especially those who are test optional, will require applicants to submit graded academic papers. Collecting these papers now and tucking them away in a secure place will save you time from having to search for these when you are ready to apply to colleges in the fall.
Prepare your summer ventures. While the summer months are certainly a time to rest and recharge, you should talk to your educational consultant about potential summer activities. There is still time for you to seek employment, register for a summer program, take a summer course at a college or university, or volunteer in your local area. Remember to choose your summer activities and experiences based on what areas you have a genuine interest in and are passionate about, not what you think will be impressive to a college or university.
Brian D. Crisp is an independent educational consultant with Crisp Consulting + Coaching who works with families in Asheville, Charleston, Raleigh-Durham and Savannah to optimize and realize their unique educational fit and admission success. As a former professor, administrator, and teacher, Brian has the knowledge and skills to counsel families in all aspects of educational planning.