With the release of the new Common Application, the 2012-2013 college admissions cycle has officially started. From a college admissions point of view, the Junior year is the most important year of high school. Whatever college you plan to attend, a clear strategy will guide you toward your destination. Here are eleven tips from the college advisors at International College Counselors that will help Juniors jump start the college admissions process.
1. Meet with your counselor. Discuss your career goals and the classes you should take. Many colleges require a high school career that shows a progression of courses. Make sure your high school coursework is laying the foundation colleges are looking for.
2. Choose your classes wisely. The choices you make on your junior curriculum are the most important. The difficulty of the courses you take matter. Instead of going for the easy “A,” choose classes that will challenge you. Colleges like to see students who have shown that they challenge themselves.
3. Keep your grades up. Class rank and grades are key factors in college admissions.
4. Explore your personal interests. Take classes in a variety of subjects that interest you. Join some clubs. Take part in different activities outside of your school. Take classes of interest at a community college. Now is your chance to find out what you like to do. Identifying your interests will help you choose a college major.
5. Make a calendar. Start by marking off important test dates and deadlines. Then write in action items and goals related to the college application process including essay deadlines you set for yourself, scholarship deadlines and campus visits.
6. Stay organized. Set up special folders for college-related materials and plan how you’ll keep them straight. Designate a place for reference material and one for correspondence. Start a notebook just for the admissions process. Write down all user names and college application passwords as well as thoughts about schools. Keep a log of correspondence, phone calls, meetings with college representatives and visits to each school.
7. Plan your testing. Take the SAT and ACT early in the year so that you are done before April and can save May and June for subject tests and AP tests. Taking the tests early will also give you time to improve your score, if need be. Call the college advisors at International College Counselors for the name of an ACT and/or SAT tutor.
8. Get to know teachers. Work really hard to impress a chosen few of your teachers. You want them to know you – and like you – well enough to write a personal and exceptional letters of recommendation for you.
9. Get Involved. Perform community service and/or get a part-time job. Extracurricular activities show that you’re well rounded and know how to manage your time efficiently.
10. Position yourself for leadership. Run for office in one of your clubs. If you have a volunteer job, explore options for taking charge of a project. Colleges like to see that you’ve moved up in an organization. It shows commitment.
11. Research, research, research. Gather college information and use it to narrow down your choices of colleges and universities. Seek out college entrance requirements, scholarships and financial aid options. Go on “virtual” campus tours. Visit the websites of schools that interest you. Attend college fairs and college nights. Talk with students from your colleges of interest. Obtain course catalogs. Plan to visit campuses. Learn about financial aid options.
In 2012, the college advisors at International College Counselors helped more than 200 students find, apply to and gain acceptance into the college of their dreams. The expert college advisors at International College Counselors are dedicated to helping students and their parents with the often daunting and complex college application process.