August College Prep Checklist for High School Juniors:
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- Begin a study routine for the ACT or SAT You can do so in a variety of ways including taking practice exams, test prep courses, utilizing free online resources or even practicing questions on study apps. You may consider using Khan Academy to practice and prepare for your next College Board (AKA: ACT) test. The Princeton Review also offers online test prep and short boot camps to boost your test-taking confidence.
- Consider taking the ACT or SAT as a junior The Coronavirus pandemic made the testing world different and some would argue a bit more confusing. While most colleges before 2020 required standardized test scores, some have adopted a test-optional stance in the recent months. U.S. News and World Report mentions “Due to the academic upheaval provoked by the novel coronavirus, an unprecedented number of universities have abandoned their testing requirements.” Some of these college have even eliminated the need for these tests indefinitely. According to a Forbes education article, the pandemic has caused “more than 300 schools, including all eight Ivy League colleges, have announced they are adopting ‘test optional’ policies for at least the coming admissions cycle.” With “at least” being the key word here, 11th grade students and high school counselors should be aware of any standardized-testing changes and the possibility of lasting modifications. These changes could shape how often you take practice exams this year too! If you decided to take standardized exams as a junior, you’ll have plenty of time to study and prepare in the event you’d like to have the option to retake. This is a good fallback plan – not only if you’re unhappy with your score, but if you’d like to retake because you’re definitely calmer and more confident the second time around.
- Think about taking AP classes this coming semester AP classes can look great on your college applications – as long as you feel you can handle them. Talk to your teachers and counselors to see if an AP course might be a good route for you. Keep in mind your AP classes could be moved online should the nation undergo a quarantine mid-school year. If you’re a student that requires in-person instruction, your semester may be harder than once expected.
- Keep applying for scholarships! As always, applying for as many scholarships as you qualify for. It’s a process that often feels pointless because you don’t see the fruits of your labor for a while, but it is absolutely worthwhile once you get help paying for school. Start by applying for this list of Scholarships for The Class of 2022.
- Find virtual college fairs and put them on your calendar. Stay safe at home by attending a virtual college fair. This type of environment would make it even a safer place to invite your parents along on your virtual visit. College fairs are a great way to cram multiple mini-college visits into a short span of time. Sure, it’s not a “real” visit, but you will learn a lot of information about the college that you likely would not have otherwise – and you may even be exposed to schools that you would not have looked at on your own. Visit College Fairs to check their on-going list of college participating in 2020 virtual fairs. StriveScan is another great college exploration tool that's free for students. These events are worthwhile to attend and the good news is that they are easy to find. Look up some fairs near you – they could open worlds of possibilities!
- Research potential colleges using TikTok and YouTube. As you research, keep notes of what you like or dislike about each school. It will help you target what you’re looking for in a college. Once you have a solid list of schools you’re interested in, look into the admissions criteria as well as financial information to see if the school seems like a realistic fit for you (or if you have to buckle down and apply for scholarships, financial aid and get a second job). Prior to 2020 and the COVID social distancing restrictions, we would have recommended thinking about planning campus visits to locations to get a feel for what that college is like. This year you’ll need to adapt. Search colleges that have made your list on TikTok and YouTube. Many students talk candidly about student life and their experiences on campus. You can get a genuine, student perspective of campus life this way! This may be the only case where you can say you’re using TikTok for college research.
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