6 Tips for Successful College Planning

College planning can be an overwhelming and confusing experience.  Most parents and students have plenty of questions but often do not know where to turn for answers.  Here are some tips for high school juniors as they begin the college admissions process.

SAT/ACT Test Prep and Tests- Most high school juniors will be taking the SAT and ACT for the first official time.  A test prep course can help you improve your scores on these important tests.  You do not need to spend a lot of money for a course, but google “test prep” and the city you live in to find some small companies that offer a comprehensive course at an affordable price.

College Planning Calendar Make a calendar of what needs to be done and when.  This should include dates when you intend to take the SAT and ACT, AP tests, college visits, and meeting with your high school counselor to go over your senior schedule.

 High School Courses and Grades-Colleges will be very interested in the grades you get this second semester and in many cases, they may be the last grades schools will see before they evaluate your college applications and transcript. Work hard to make your grades the best.  If you need to make any schedule changes, do them sooner, rather than later.

Extracurricular activities are important and you should look for leadership positions in the activities you already pursue. Although it may involve a little more time and commitment, colleges like to see you make that extra effort to distinguish yourself in a few activities. Community service is also something you should consider.

Choosing a College-Starting your college search is one of the most important parts of the college planning process.  It takes self-reflection and research to find the schools that really fit your academic and personal needs.  Do not eliminate any schools because of cost.  That can come later in the process if needed.  Keep an open mind when you consider schools and do not limit yourself to a few with which you are familiar.

College Visits-Visit some schools that are within driving distance from your home to get a feel for different campuses.  They may not be of interest to you in terms of attending, but you will gain some idea of size and what kind of campus location you might like.

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