Intro: Starting on the Road to College

september task for HS seniors

So you are starting your last year in High School — make it count!

You should have a good idea what your plans are when you graduate. We will now begin the planning steps for getting yourself accepted into a post-high school program of your choice.

Follow these steps carefully. You need to plan accordingly so that everything is ready to go

Some Important Notes for HS Seniors:

If you haven't made any plans regarding college or post-high school careers, jump over to our late starter file to catch up on things that should be done to meet important Fall deadlines.

  • First Step:
    keep your grades up. Colleges will look at grades when reviewing your application. It is important that you maintain or increase your grade performance during your final year
  • Second Step:
    meet with your high school or guidance counselor. You should do it early. They are valuable players in your college planning process. Discuss with them your planning and testing dates. Use them extensively as you research and select colleges.
  • Third Step:
    you should have all of your college search information listed and profiled. If you haven't made any college plans, you need to review our "Late Starter" file and get going. Important deadlines are due in October.
  • Fourth Step:
    if you are considering early admission, check "early admission" deadlines and get your application ready. Many "early application" deadlines are due by November 01.
  • Fifth Step:
    you need to get your application items started and completed. These items include essays, letters of recommendations, transcripts and other information.
  • Sixth Step:
    prepare and register to take the schedule exams required for college admission. These exams include the SAT I, SAT II and ACT. Check your school for which exam.
  • Seventh Step:
    consider taking Advanced Placement Exams or the CLEP tests that are administered in the Spring. This may save you time and money by testing out of some college courses. Speak with your high school counselor and administrators about CLEP testing.
  • Eighth Step:
    meet with college representatives that visit your school. Get a feel of the kind of college you would like to attend.
  • Ninth Step:
    keep a record of what you find in your research. This will help compare programs when you are ready to make a decision:
  • Use our FREE download tool for tracking:

    click here
     

Finalize Your College Search

september task for HS seniors

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It's time to review your college search and narrow your selection down to those schools that meet your career objectives. Meet with your school's guidance counselor to discuss your decision.

Your search categories include:

  1. search list of 2-3 schools that you could definitely get in
  2. search list of 4-5 schools that you could probably get in
  3. search list of 7-8 schools that you would like to get in

You should budget on how much you can afford for application submission. If the application submission costs for 16 or more schools is too much. Narrow your search to 3-3-3.

search 4-year colleges-universities
search community colleges
search online schools and programs
search vocational and career schools

What Should You Look For in a School?

  • Private or Public:
    private schools are generally more expensive - but many of them are ranked as some of the best schools for graduate hires. Public schools are generally less expensive and in some cases, much larger.
  • Size:
    universities like the Big-10 can have enrollments 40K+ students. This big universities have large classroom sizes for starting undergrads. Smaller school are a better teacher-to-student ratio. Their curriculum may not be as extensive as larger schools.
  • Location:
    some schools are in urban settings; other schools situated on isolated campus locations. If you select an urban setting, issues such as safety come into play. Schools on isolated campuses may not have urban amenities that may be or your liking.
  • Type of Curriculum:
    larger schools have a wide array of curriculum that is ideal for students not knowing off hand what they want to major in. But if you are leaning towards one major or another, your task is to find the school that ranks high in your base of discipline
  • Quality of Education:
    every major 4-year institution has one area where they are strong but other programs may be weak. Again, you need to view rankings and reviews from other attending students
  • Cost:
    cost is a factor is any college selection. Your goal is to avoid accumulating debt so you can attend a higher price school over a less expensive school. There are school that offer exceptional education at a lower cost. Make sure you compare all costs when selecting school including cost of tuition, fees, housing, supplies, and transportation cost for a trip home during the holidays.
  • Admission Requirements:
    most schools have standard admittance requirements. But there are school that give higher weighting to SAT test vs. ACT text exams. So check your school entrance exam requirements in order to qualify.
  • Help with Financial Aid:
    financial aid includes grants, scholarships, work study, student loans and other aid resources to defray the total cost of education. Review peer reviews on the quality of the financial aid services of one school over another. .
  • Housing Resources:
    it is true that some school have poor or no housing services available; it is entirely up to you to find housing - especially in urban schools. Housing can go fast. So if you decide on a school, get your housing needs settled quickly.
  • Nearby Facilities:
    campus life can be a lot of fun, but you may want to get away from the "campus feeling". So check around for facilities such as outdoor recreation, urban amenities, and other entertainment..
  • Campus Life:
    what is campus life at one school over another? You best option is to visit the campus, review the facilities, and review peer groups from current students. You may find some schools are quite boring.
  • Security:
    a key issue to review, especially with urban schools that often invite criminal activities. But note that even the isolated campuses have problems. View the security safety features the college offers, especially when your visit the campus.
  • Lifestyle:
    now what this? Well if you attend a religious-affiliated school, certain actives may not be permissible. On the other hand, if you attend a very liberal leaning university, you may find the lifestyle a bit much for you. Again, review peer reviews and other online information regarding campus lifestyle and activities.

Compare n' Rank

september task for HS seniors

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Compare your choice of schools head-to-head and take a virtual tour of the campus. Begin grouping your college choices and rank them based on your selection criteria:

  • College Comparison and Profiles
    compare colleges by region and cost:
    http://nces.ed.gov
    you can profile two or more colleges on cost, student size, teacher ratio, and other criteria:
    collegeboard.com
  • College Rankings
    view college rankings by school criteria and other rankings
    view rankings in our tool set
  • Take a Virtual Tour
    this is good place to start prior to making an actual visit. See online videos of school campus and other virtual places:
    campustours.com

You should plan to make a college visit before submitting your application.

The cost to attend college can be high for many schools. So make sure this is the right school for you. Start to arrange campus visits with your select colleges and meet with college recruiters that visit your school.

Tips When Visiting a Campus

Take notes and pictures when visiting a campus. This will help you make a comparison when it comes time to make a final decision:

  • Plan to visit the college for a full day.
    Attend when the school is in session, if possible.
  • Arrange an interview with the admission office
    or other "campus visit" groups
  • Meet with the financial aid office
    to get all related financial aid information offered by that school
  • When doing a visit,
    check out the library, student unions, sporting facilities, and academic centers. Walk the campus to familiarize yourself with the layout.
  • Review housing facilities and dormitories
    to determine whether to live on-campus or off-campus housing. Note the college rules for housing. Some colleges require first-time Freshmen to live in dormitories.
  • Schedule time to speak with students and faculty. Visit the clubs and societies that are part of the campus life. Check campus rules, safety programs, and facilities that maintain the safety of the campus.
  • Drive around the surrounding community
    to familiarize yourself with restaurants, theaters, rec areas, job opportunities, etc.

Prepare the College Application

september task for HS seniors

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You need to start your college application to meet submission deadlines:

  • Early Admission:
    deadlines are in early November
  • Regular Admission:
    deadlines are in January-February.

What's needed this month:

  1. Request an application form from each of your colleges.
  2. Your college admissions application will most likely require 1- 2 essays. Use the weekends to write and edit your essays.
  3. Most college admissions require 1-2 recommendations from teachers and/or community leaders. Select who should write your recommendation.
  4. Study for your college entrance exams if you are taking them this fall. Colleges require different college entrance exams. You need to check with your college to determine which exam to take.
  5. Double check your transcripts when you start your senior year. You will need to forward these transcripts to colleges for admission review.
  6. Take a swim, tennis, karate or other class over the fall semester (either with your school or community group). You want to show well-roundness in your application.

Key Elements of the Application

College Application:

Request an application form from each of your colleges. You can find it online or request it from the school.

The package will include the application form, submission requirements (essays, transcripts and other) and self-addressed envelopes for the letters of recommendations.

Many schools use the COMMON application form for application submission. Using the COMMON application form saves you time from completing multiple application forms:
see form at commonapp.org

You can save the COMMON application form online until you are ready to submit it electronically to participating schools

Or get the application from your school — link to your college to submit your application form online or to request a application packet:
use our college search directory for your school's web site

Early Decision Note:
you need to decide if you are going to do early admission.

If so, you will need to have your application completed and ready to submit between October and November of your senior year.

  • The advantage of early decision is that you will know whether you have been accepted by early January.
  • The disadvantage of early decision is that you may be legally bound to attend that school if you are accepted.

So decide on early decisions for schools that are your first choice.

 

College Essays:

Your college admissions application will most likely require 1- 2 essays. Use the weekends to write and edit your essays.

Note that the essay is an important decisional parameter for college admission. So take this seriously.

Essay resource and editing services:
use this resource to edit your essay — you will expert advice from professionals who are experts in college essay review
EssayEdge.com

Quick view: essay writing tips and samples

view coupons for essay writing services

 

College Recommendations:

Most college admissions require 1-2 recommendations from teachers and/or community leaders.

Select who should write your recommendation. Give the person plenty of time (about 3-4 weeks prior to your deadline).

Also provide them a short autobiography, a list of your outside activities, school transcript and a self-addressed envelope as instructed by your college.

Please note that the teacher works with hundreds of students. So give them plenty of time.

 

School Transcripts:

Double check your transcripts when you start your senior year. You will need to forward these transcripts to colleges for admission review.

Make sure you have the following:

  • all grades are posted correctly
  • all required courses for graduation are listed
  • all required courses for college admittance are listed

It is important that these transcripts are correct and up-to-date. If not, meet with school administration to repair any errors.

 

Extracurriculars:

Take a swim, tennis, karate or other class over the fall semester (either with your school or community group). You want to show well-roundness in your application.

Just the right amount of studies (with good grades) and outside activities. Don't think that a lot of extracurricular activities are a must. You just need to show a balance.

How to build a well-rounded character?

FREE Download
Complete guide on discipline and character building. Has illustrations on the building blocks of success.

view our "building success" module

About College Exams

College Entrance Exams:

Colleges require different college entrance exams. You need to check with your college to determine which exam to take.

Many students will sit for both exams to make sure they meet qualifications from all colleges.

When you register for exams, make sure test scores will be sent to your select colleges.

Discuss with your guidance counselor about the college entrance exams that will be administered this Fall. Don't miss the registration deadlines.

There are two types of exams:

  1. SAT:

    SAT Reasoning
    The SAT Reasoning Test is a three-hour test that measures a student's ability to reason problems instead of general knowledge. It has three sections: writing, critical reading, and math. Most of the questions are multiple-choice.

    SAT Subject Tests
    The SAT Subject Tests measure the student's knowledge in specific subjects: English, mathematics, history, science, and languages. SAT Subject Tests are primarily multiple-choice, and each lasts one hour.

    more information: collegeboard.org

  2. ACT:
    The ACT Assessment® is used by some colleges. The exam has four multiple-choice tests: English, reading, mathematics, and science reasoning.

    more information: actstudent.org

 

Preparation Guides:

  1. PSAT (practice exams):
    the PSAT is the test prep exam for the SAT tests. The PSAT is usually offered in October and November through your school. Check with your school counselor for dates.
    see collegeboard.org for information

  2. ACT test preparation:
    some colleges use the ACT test. You need to check your college to determine which test they use for admittance.
    actstudent.org

  3. Kaplan Testing Services:
    Kaplan offers online and in-room simulation tests with guidance on weak points that need to be improved.
    kaptest.com

  4. Buy college entrance exam prep books:
    SAT/ACT exam prep and samples

Meet w/ Guidance Counselor

september task for HS seniors

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Meet again with your guidance counselor as soon as possible.

Be prepared to review your plans and college selection. Review your transcripts to make sure that you graduate with the required credits and courses to get into the college(s) of your choice.

Items to coordinate with your guidance counselor:

  • the availability of and enrollment in Advanced Placement classes
  • the schedules for the college entrance exams (includes SAT I and II, and ACT). Discuss with your counselor on the exam required to get into your college of choice
  • the admission requirements to college including GPA, credits, exam type and scores, etc.
  • discuss whether or not you need to send official copies of your transcripts at the time of application.
  • note if you are doing early submission so that your transcripts can be sent in to meet early admission deadlines.
  • review all other information related to your college planning tasks.

Something Extra

Scholarship Search

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Halloween is Almost Here

We've got a great party package that will make your party a "spooky" smash:

Go to: October Calendar

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