While most seniors are happily done with their part of the college admissions process, now it’s time for juniors to get engaged.
Here’s what high school juniors and their families should be thinking about and doing over the next few months.
• Start talking. It’s time for parents and their children to have an in-depth conversation about next steps after high school. This is a time to discuss realistic expectations.
Parents need to be honest about their financial capabilities and their willingness to contribute financially, through their savings and/or taking out loans. If up until now your message to your children has been, “don’t worry about the cost, if you get in where you’d like to go, we’ll make it happen,” then make sure you can live up to that lofty goal.
With price tags above $50,000 per year at many private colleges, that can be an unrealistic promise. You are far better off being honest with your children before they become invested in specific colleges than having to disappoint them once they are accepted and you can’t deliver.
• Get to know yourself. Juniors need to start taking the college process seriously and invest their energy into assessing what their academic and social needs are. Do they have any idea of what they’d like to study? Are they interested in experiencing a rural, suburban, college town or urban environment?
Have they figured out their ideal learning style or learning environment; in other words, do they prefer lecture-based classes where they take notes and then exams, or do they want to be more involved in class discussions and write analytical papers?
• Focus on academics. Select senior year courses thoughtfully. The rigor of the senior class schedule is an important admissions factor. Colleges like to see that students continue to challenge themselves. Even if the student has satisfied all their high school requirements, they should still maintain as rigorous a schedule as possible.
• Participate in class. It’s important for students, particularly juniors, to get to know their teachers. If a student is curious about a topic discussed in class, let the teacher know. The teachers from junior year will most likely be the ones writing the letters of recommendation.
If a student isn’t performing to the best of his or her abilities, arrange for tutoring after school. Help students manage their time better. Remember that the transcript that most colleges will see only includes grades through junior year, so this may be your last opportunity to dazzle.
Next week. Junior to-dos – Part 2: researching colleges, planning campus visits, refining the list, designing a test prep strategy, choosing what to do this summer and preparing a brag sheet.