The to-do list for high school seniors seems to be growing longer each day.
Here’s some of what they are thinking about when they’re not doing homework, participating in their extracurricular activities, hanging with friends, sleeping, eating or texting: their college list, testing, campus visits, applications, essays, transcripts, activity list, letters of recommendation and scholarships.
Let’s try to de-stress the situation by creating a fall timeline and breaking each of these bigger tasks into more manageable pieces. Check them off as you complete them:
• Finalize the college list, making certain it is balanced with reach/target/safety schools. Be sure to include an in-state safety school for financial reasons.
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• Review the standardized testing calendar and register for the SAT in October, November or December or the ACT in October or December.
• Find out if any colleges on your list recommend or require SAT Subject Tests and register for the tests.
• Check your school’s calendar for and take advantage of any teacher work days to schedule campus visits.
• See if any colleges you’re considering offer open house dates or discovery days for seniors.
• Determine which schools offer early action.
• Decide if a binding early decision option at one college makes sense.
• Figure out which of the colleges on your final list are on the Common Application and which are not.
• Research the number of essays required or recommended by each college and create a document for each college listing their essay prompts and deadlines.
• Set up accounts on each college’s website.
• Create a document to keep track user names and passwords for each college.
• Prepare a timeline of activity based on each college’s deadline (i.e., don’t work on the Common Application if none of your early-action colleges accept the Common Application).
• Brainstorm essay ideas for colleges with the earliest deadlines.
• Write a first draft of essays. Edit essays and edit again. Ask a trusted source to review essays.
• Meet with college representatives when they visit your school.
• Review and order high school transcripts. Find out how your high school sends transcripts to each college. Most high schools transmit transcripts electronically.
• Prepare your resume/brag sheet/activity list and give it to your references.
• Research which colleges accept letters of recommendation, how many they require and how many they will accept.
• Ask teachers, coaches, advisers and employers for letters of recommendation.
• Begin researching scholarships.
After reading this, I hope all of you parents are a little more sympathetic to the angst of being a high school senior.