Of course the New Year inspires all sorts of resolutions and fresh starts. If you are a member of the high school class of 2013, it also marks the time for you to begin your college planning in earnest.
Here are five resolutions to get you started:
- Consider what you love to do: It’s often more difficult than it seems. Passion is a buzzword in college admissions right now; following yours will allow an admission committee to understand you a little bit better. In most cases, colleges are attracted to students with depth more than breadth. More importantly, pursuing the interests you love, whether it’s archery, or Arabic, debate or drama, will make you happy. Without a doubt, continuing to participate in activities you love will lower your levels of application-induced stress.
- Plan for summer now: While it might be winter outside, the summer before your senior year is critical. Princeton University even asks explicitly about how you spent it. Lounging by the pool might be lots of fun, but more actively engaging with the world around you during the summer will boost your chances of acceptance to your top choice schools. Far-flung travel experiences might sound tempting, but you need not travel far or spend a semester’s tuition. Look to local universities for academic enrichment or research opportunities, make a bigger commitment to your volunteer work, or try to find a part-time job. As the next few months fly by, time will restrict these possibilities. Plan now!
- Create a testing plan, using your PSAT results as guideline: If you took the PSAT last fall, you should receive your scores from your high school counselor sometime this month, if you have not already. With these results as a guideline, plan your SAT and ACT test dates for the next 12 months. Are you planning to take a review course or work with a tutor? Are you planning to take SAT subject tests? When do those tests tie in best with your curriculum?
- Visit a college: College might seem like it is off in the distant future. Begin to envision it now. Take a day and visit a college not far from your home. What do you like? What doesn’t appeal to you?
- Evaluate your high school’s advising resources and consider whether you will need additional guidance: Many high schools begin college planning in earnest during the second half of junior year. Take some time to understand the resources available to you in your school. If you don’t feel that your school is providing the support you need for your college planning, identify outside resources that can be of help. Independent educational consultants can help you plan your future and expose you to options you might not have considered. You can learn more about working with me, or you can consult a professional association such as HECA for other options.