Where Are You Heading?You may have started to narrow down what you intend to major in and where you hope to apply, but opening yourself to all options may be equally rewarding. If you are embarking on a college tour over Spring Break, include a school that you are not particularly excited by or interested in. Doing so can aid you in identifying what you expect from a potential college or university. Ensure, too, that your list of prospective schools is long enough – choosing 10-12 schools for consideration is not excessive at this stage.
Who Will Assist You?Next semester, you will ask teachers for recommendations and guidance counselors for help with your essays. Begin cultivating those relationships today. At some high schools, instructors will only write a set number of letters for the entire class – if you must have a specific teacher’s endorsement, request it well before the fall. Strong relationships with teachers and administrators are critical in your senior year, and they occasionally require sacrifice. Volunteer for activities that your favorite instructor is offering or offer your help around the classroom.
Where Can You Seek Additional Information?The college search is overwhelming, and it is important to determine where you can locate the answers you require. College counselors, high school educators and personal mentors are solid resources for navigating the world of applications. College admissions staff at each school can also answer your questions, as well as connect you to current students who are more than happy to speak with you.
Will You Complete the ACT or SAT Again?If you are considering sitting for a standardized exam a second time, do so now. Come fall (and college application season), you will have far less flexibility to study. Late spring is an excellent opportunity to retake tests.
Will You Join Additional Extracurricular Activities?Ensure you participate in the clubs and groups you enjoy. If you are currently involved, volunteer for a new position; if you are not, choose an activity. A large percentage of students join clubs just before they apply for college in the fall, which is often obvious to admissions officers when they review dates of involvement on an application. Try a new group not only for the sake of your application, but also to explore unfamiliar options and interests.
Andrea Deck is a professional GRE tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She is a graduate student at Columbia University in the class of 2015.