• Work to stay on track in your classes and keep your grades up.Even if you’re not at that top of your class, that’s ok. Continual improvement is what is most important. Always remember that colleges love to see upward trends!
• Meet with your counselor.When you meet with your counselor, discuss college options, standardized testing, your class rank and any other concerns you may have regarding your college admissions and planning processes. Plan to meet with your counselor to touch base at least once each semester to ensure you’re on track with the college planning process.
• Create a standardized testing plan.Work with your counselor to form a testing plan so you know which standardized tests you plan to take (based on which schools you are going to be applying to) and which standardized test he or she would recommend. Also, discuss which preparatory measures he or she would recommend you take and when you should begin studying (we recommend the sooner, the better). Make sure to make any important registration deadline dates so that you don’t miss them. Also, ensure you have more than enough time to prepare for each exam and account for any retakes you may want.
• Start to think about and evaluate your college options.Ask where you fall within your class rank, your grades up until this point and your extracurricular activities. Then, discuss the schools you’ve been thinking of applying to next year and whether or not those options are realistic given your current academic status.
• Create a college list.Start a list of colleges that meet your basic criteria, such as: school size, location, majors you’re interested in studying and cost. Once you have that list created, keep adding additional factors and weighing each aspect based on importance so that you have the list ranked. At this point, your college list can range anywhere from 10 to 20 schools.
• Research colleges you are interested in learning more about.Start gathering more information about colleges you’re interested in by attending college fairs or college nights, talk to college representatives if they happen to visit your school or research colleges online independently. This will help you narrow down your college list and may even add additional schools you hadn’t thought of to your list, which is perfectly alright – either way, it will lead you in the right direction to the right school!
• Continue to explore your interests.This can be done through extracurricular activities, academic clubs, volunteering for related activities and clubs or through job shadowing or obtaining a part-time job, apprenticeship or internship in a profession that may interest you. By doing so, you can narrow down your career interests and potentially discover which colleges offer the majors and fields of study you may want to pursue. Plus, if it happens to be a paid position, you can save for college!
• Stay involved in extracurricular activities.Whether you’re already involved or just getting started, it’s important to be active in high school. Make sure you’re always involved in at least one or two extracurriculars – and stick with them!
• Create a college file to stay organized.From now until the time you leave for college, piles of college documents and information on each school will accumulate. Keeping everything organized now will avoid chaos later. Start a file for your research so that you can keep track of what you find for each school. That way, you’ll know exactly where to look when you need to reference back to each school’s folder, which should also include any college catalogs and admissions information.
• Create an academic resume.Consider creating an academic resume to include within your academic portfolio. Including an academic resume allows an admissions official to see your student information at a glance, including your education, honors, employment/internship experience as well as any special interests, volunteer or community service work and/or hobbies and passions.
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