For rising juniors, summer break is the perfect time to think about your journey from high school to college admission. Here are a few things you should be sure to focus on in the months ahead.
Plan ahead by looking at the SAT and ACT test dates and registration deadlines for the upcoming school year. Consult with your guidance counselor to work out the details of your testing strategy. Think about your commitments and choose test dates that don’t conflict with any of your own personal obligations. Talk to your parents to clear the test dates you are considering with the family calendar as well.
Starting with an SAT or ACT diagnostic test can help you determine how much preparation you need to do. Consider the test-prep choices available to you. Options include independent study, using review books or online programs, and group classes at your high school, local library, or community center. If you plan to work with a tutor, research your options—ask your guidance counselor, teachers, friends, and classmates for recommendations. To get a little extra practice in every day, sign up for SAT Question of the Day and ACT Question of the Day.
To get started, think about how you spend your time outside the classroom and what you enjoy. Identify activities you would like to deepen your commitment to and which new ones you would like to explore.
Create a list of your extracurricular activities thus far, including clubs, athletics, community service, and work and summer experiences. Also, list awards and competitions in which you’ve participated. Keeping your profile up to date will help you get a jump start when it’s time to complete your college applications and essays in your senior year.
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If you’re not sure where to start, talk to friends and family members who’ve been through the college process, or meet with your guidance counselor. Familiarize yourself with the different types of schools—public and private; small, medium, and large; urban, suburban, and rural; liberal arts and research-oriented schools. Buy or borrow from the library a college guide such as the Fiske Guide to Colleges to get basic admissions facts and commentary from students. Start your online research by browsing individual school websites.
When you’re ready to dive deeper, study the admissions and financial aid sections of college websites to explore academic programs, course offerings, and majors. Learn about campus life by reading about clubs, activities, special events, and athletics. Although most schools are not in full swing this time of year, summertime campus visits can help you to get a feel for the atmosphere and the many options available at different types of schools. You can also follow the blogs on College Countdown and Bound to Organize for helpful information and resources year-round.
Read. Work. Intern. Volunteer. Travel. Study at a university. Participate in a research project. Summer is the time to further expand your interests and to have new experiences, too.
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