Spring 2012 Must-Dos for High School Students
Whether you're a freshman or a senior, there's something you can be doing now for your college search.
By Kathryn Knight Randolph
February 17, 2012
This semester, take the SAT and/or the ACT. Chances are you’ll have to take the test a few times to get your scores up to where you want them, so start now.
Research schools online, through their individual websites and on college search sites like Fastweb. Get an idea of what you’re looking for and pick five to eight schools that interest you. Unless you have always known what type of school you want to attend, make sure your list of five to eight schools has variety. Look at big state schools as well as small, liberal arts colleges.
Once you have your list, schedule college visits in March, April and May. Your spring break would be an ideal time to go so you don’t have to miss any school, but weekends are prime time to visit college campuses as well. Just try to avoid graduation weekends in May. On your campus visits, take a tour, sit in on a class and meet with coaches or staff regarding your extracurricular interests.
High School Seniors
At this point, your applications are in and you’ve either already heard from some colleges about their admissions decision or your twiddling your thumbs waiting in anticipation for that first acceptance letter. Rather than inciting a near panic attack in anxiously waiting, put all of your nervous energy into your scholarship search and applications.
At this point, apply for anything and everything, even awards for small amounts. And remember, you can still apply for scholarships while in college – so don’t get discouraged if you apply for dozens of scholarships now and don’t receive any money.
While you may receive a few acceptance letters, you may also receive a few rejection or waitlist letters. Don’t panic — this happens to many students. Set your sights on what you should be doing now instead of why you didn’t get in. Also, In March, you’ll be receiving your financial aid package. Look at where you did get accepted and start thinking realistically about which school fits best academically, socially and financially.
Your final decision is due on May 1 so take this time to make sure you’re going to make the right choice. Schedule last-minute campus visits to the schools you’re considering. Spend the night in the dorms, have lunch with a few current students and meet again with an admissions officer if you’re still not completely sold.
There are plenty of students who make their final decision but don’t really fall in love with a school until they’ve been there for a few months, and there is nothing wrong with that. So don’t worry if you’re not head over heels for your top choice. As long as you can really picture yourself on that campus, in those classes and making friends in those dorms, you’re on the right decision-making path.
Finally, take time to reflect on and enjoy your final moments as a high school student. College is such an incredible experience, but don’t let senior year lose its luster. Continue to work hard in class, savor those last few baseball or choir practices and make a point to spend time with your close friends.
Where are you in the college search? And what do you need to do to catch up this spring?