If you’re the parent of a high school junior who is either avoiding the subject of college or seems unmotivated, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Here’s an action plan for your student:
• Before school gets out, ask one or two teachers in core subject areas if they would be willing to write you a strong letter of recommendation. If you sense any ambivalence, just thank them and figure out someone else to ask. Teachers appreciate being asked in the spring because they get hammered with requests in the fall and frequently tell students they are filled up.
• Finalize the brag sheet/resume. A well-crafted brag sheet has multiple uses; for interviews, scholarship applications, college applications and letters of recommendation. A straight-forward brag sheet will help a recommender write a stronger letter.
Be sure to mention what you’ve done over your summer breaks, your community service activities, any employment you’ve had as well as your extracurricular activities and any awards, scholarships or honors. Teachers will talk about your performance in class, but they like to supplement that with your activities outside the classroom.
• At this point, the college list should be fairly well defined and should contain 2-4 reach/dream schools, 2-4 target schools and 1-2 sure-thing/safety schools of which one should be a “financial safety.”
• Plan campus visits for the summer and fall. It used to be that college campuses were ghost towns in the summer, but that is no longer the case. Many colleges and universities now have summer mini-semesters and special summer programs.
• Prep for tests and select fall test dates. If you need to take the ACT, SAT or SAT subject tests, take a look at the testing dates and schedule your prep work. Remember, if you are applying early action or early decision you’ll need to submit test results from September and October test dates.