College campuses during the summer usually fall into one extreme or another. Many colleges are crowded with kids; they just happen to be members of a much younger demographic. Colleges are now frequently offering sports camps and enrichment programs to elementary, middle and high school students. Taking a college tour surrounded by unruly fifth-graders can be a little disconcerting.
On the other hand, some college campuses are eerily empty, and that makes it hard to imagine what it’s like to have posters plastered on every surface or to be around when classes break and the hum of college kids is in surround-sound. It’s hard to get a handle on the campus culture or the vibe of the student body when they’re not there.
Families frequently ask me whether it is still worth it to visit colleges over the summer because they know they won’t be seeing the real thing. My advice is that any visit is better than no visit. If schedules don’t allow a campus visit during the spring of junior year or if the fall of senior year feels too late, then make the most of your summer.
Here are some tips to make your summer campus visits more meaningful.
Make sure the admissions office is open. Admissions offices often adjust their campus visit schedules during the summer months, frequently offering fewer tours. Go on a day when there is a scheduled tour. Wandering around on your own is OK, but you’ll miss out on important details that are shared in both the information session and the campus tour.
Wander around afterward to explore buildings that weren’t on the tour. Visit the theater department or the music building. Check out the fitness facilities. Talk to some students and see whether you can take a peek at the dorm rooms.
Eat in the dining hall. This is less about rating the food and more about seeing how students interact as well as the diversity and friendliness of the student body.
Visit during an orientation session. If possible, try to arrange your visit when the college is conducting one of its orientation sessions for the incoming freshmen. There will be lots of students on campus who can answer questions, and you may find a freshman from your hometown who can share some college admissions insights. Your child might even be able to tag along on an orientation activity.
Don’t go home empty-handed. Grab literature, get a copy of the latest edition of the student newspaper, take photos and jot down whatever notes will help you distinguish this college from any others you visit.
Visit the financial aid office. If you have financial concerns, schedule an appointment, in advance, with the financial aid office. Take copies of your most recent tax returns.
Preparing Students for College
The Extracurricular Edge
What your students should know about out-of-school activities
You know that there is more than meets the eye to the admissions game, and you want to give your students any edge you can. Admissions officers know that what potential students do with their time outside of school reveals important personal dimensions that statistics can’t show.
Participating in an extracurricular activity—be it student government, a sport, a part-time job or volunteering—while maintaining good grades, demonstrates:
Ability to prioritize
A College Board study reveals that participants in extracurricular activities often achieve higher SAT scores.
The study suggests that important reasoning abilities measured by tests like the SAT® are developed both in and out of the classroom. Results show that participation in extracurricular activities benefits minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged students as much or more than economically advantaged students.
Tips for selecting extracurricular activities
1. Choose depth over breadth
Admissions officers are more likely to consider an applicant who is deeply and passionately committed to a specific activity, rather than one who is superficially involved in multiple activities. Nanci Tessier, director of admission at Smith College, explains, “We’re looking for a commitment to and a passion for an activity outside of the academic setting. We’re looking for depth rather than breadth.”
2. Consider interests and abilities
Guide students towards activities that complement and enhance their specific interests and skills. A student who is a talented writer should consider working on the school newspaper or yearbook. Dorothy Coppock, a counselor at the Evanston Township High School in Illinois, reassures her students that a passion unrelated to school counts, too: “An avid equestrian or ice-skater does not need to add on a school activity to look well-rounded.”
3. Seek a balance
Achieving a balance between academics and extracurricular activities can be a challenge for students. Remind them that participating in too many activities can take away from study time. It can also lead to burnout and exhaustion.
4. Count working and volunteering
The commitment to working at a job or volunteering reveals certain personality characteristics that appeal to admissions officers. It usually works in an applicant’s favor if he shows a significant level of employment or community service while maintaining academic excellence.
5. Use internships to develop interests
Internships can help students discover activities they feel passionate about. Work experience assists in identifying career interests and goals. It provides an opportunity to apply classroom learning to the real world. It’s also a great way to earn money for college.
6. Realize that inclusion in most lists and publications is not significant
Colleges are interested in actual achievements. Help students recognize that colleges do not give much weight to being listed in Who’s Who Among American High School Students or other “name only” accomplishments.
Students can strengthen college applications by exploring a couple of activities and sticking with them through high school—and they will develop skills and interests that may last a lifetime.
Summer Checklist for Parents of Graduating Seniors: What Can You Do to Ensure Your Child’s Success After High School?
May 9th, 2011 by Lori S. Grandstaff
Congratulations! Now that May 1st has passed, and your student has decided where to go to college, you should be proud that your child is on the brink of a new life stage! Soon it will be time for your graduating high school senior to step across that magical threshold into the new and wonderful world of college. Take a few moments to read and think about the things listed below that you can do this summer to make the next three months a time of successful transition for the entire family.
[ ] Verbally recognize your child’s accomplishments to‐date…not every student completes high school and not every student decides to pursue higher education. You have a lot to be proud of, so communicate that to your child.
[ ] Actively listen to your child’s plans for the future…it’s a great time to talk about what the upcoming weeks and months might be like in a new living environment and with new surroundings. If your child will participate, explore ideas for future life dreams and goals that range from 2 to 10 years away. You may just learn something new.
[ ] Be supportive if your child expresses uncertainty over the future – talk rationally and logically about any concerns, and encourage your child to brainstorm possible scenarios and solutions for things that seem problematic. Reassure your student that you have confidence in his/her ability to face whatever challenges arise.
[ ] Help your student identify resources for all types of college issues as well as life‐in‐general issues. Gather specific answers that are relevant to the college he/she will attend in the fall. Which campus offices can he/she go to for academic help? Where are the health and counseling offices on campus? Which grocery stores and gas stations are nearby? Where will he/she go for routine auto maintenance, like oil changes and tire rotation? Talk through these issues this summer, before your child heads off in search of solutions on his/her own.
[ ] Encourage your child to make lists of what to do before college starts. This could include handling bank accounts, debit cards and possibly credit cards. It could also include recording ideas for what to pack and things to take (laptop, printer, etc.). Make sure it includes adding important dates to the calendar for things that should not be overlooked this summer, like tuition payment deadlines, freshman orientation dates, academic advising appointments, and such. This is his/her list and responsibility, but organizational support from mom or dad will likely be appreciated during this transitional time.
[ ] Continue to be a teacher for your child. It’s okay for you to try and share your knowledge about how to do things like cooking, laundry, handling money and caring for a car. It’s also okay for you to try to explain your thoughts about handling new social situations that may be more advanced and complicated in a campus setting, such as drugs, alcohol and sex. Hopefully your child has already heard about this from you in years past, and hearing them talked about in a grown up way will reinforce the values and beliefs of your family.
[ ] Understand that your child is not perfect. No one is. And that’s okay. This is a time for learning, and there may be some mistakes made along the way. Be forgiving. And be patient.
[ ] Be present. Enjoy sharing some time together before college starts. Make some great summer memories that will remain fresh in your mind once your student is out of the house.
[ ] Realize that your student may be worried about leaving more than just you. Your student is also dealing with the pending separation from friends and siblings. Try not to make this time just about you and your child – it is much bigger than that for him/her, and it will help if you acknowledge that.
[ ] Be accessible…always. This summer transition is not necessarily about “the end” of childhood…it’s about a “new beginning” and the start of an adult relationship that will be full of great things to come!
Twenty Questions to Ask Your School Counselor
By: College Board
Your school counselor is one of your best resources as you plan for college. Your counselor has information about admission tests, college preparation, and your education and career options. Here are some basic questions to help get your conversation started:
1.What courses do I need to take to be ready for college?
2.How should I plan my schedule so I’ll complete them?
3.Which elective courses do you recommend?
4.Which AP® courses should I consider taking?
5.When is the PSAT/NMSQT® going to be given?
6.How should I study for the SAT®, and is it given at this high school or do I need to go somewhere nearby?
7.Do you have any college planning sessions scheduled?
8.Do you have college handbooks or other guides that I can browse or borrow?
9.What activities can I do at home and over the summer to get ready for college?
10.What kinds of grades do different colleges require?
11.Are there any college fairs at this school, or nearby?
12.What colleges do other kids from our school go to?
13.What are the requirements or standards for the honor society?
14.Can you put me in touch with recent grads who are going to the colleges on my wish list?
15.Do you have any information to help me start exploring careers?
16.If my colleges need a recommendation from you, how can I help you know me better, so it can be more personal?
17.Are there any special scholarships or awards that I should know about now, so I can work toward them?
18.Can I see my transcript as it stands now, to see if everything is as I think it should be?
19.What forms do I use to apply for financial aid and where I can find them online?
20.How does our school compare to others, in terms of test scores and reputation?
Your school counselor may be the most accessible person on the planet, or may be juggling a thousand students and barely know your name. So, remember that the person who has the biggest stake in your academics is you. It’s up to you to stay on top of opportunities and deadlines so you can take control of your future. www.WestCoastCollegeTours.com will take you directly to the college admissions reps for your specific question. Don’t miss out!
April 30, 2011
State’s Top Universities Offer New OpportunityBy REEVE HAMILTON
To lawmakers — at least those who know about it — the addition tacked onto an omnibus public education accountability bill in the 2009 legislative session is known as the “Doogie Howser” or the “Let My People Go” amendment.
It laid the groundwork for a new option for high school students eager to head to college before their graduation. If students demonstrate sufficient competency in English, math, science, a social science and a foreign language on tests like the Advanced Placement exam, they can receive a certificate that can be traded for a diploma at any time.
The kinks in this new system are currently being worked out in 16 districts and the KIPP charter schools, but it is expected to become available statewide this fall.
“Kids who are ready to move on — a lot of times, unfortunately, in the current system, those kids get bored,” said Reece Blincoe, superintendent of the Brownwood I.S.D. “They are bored out of their mind. Sometimes that can even lead them going the wrong direction instead of the right direction.”
What’s striking about this new initiative is the willingness of administrators at Texas’ top public universities to work together. The criteria used to evaluate students who want to leave high school early are controlled by the University of Texas and Texas A&M University. An early departing student may earn a certificate, which does not guarantee admission to either university, but it verifies that the recipient has met the standards for a top-tier research university.
Despite shrinking budgets, and a propensity of many flagship universities across the country to separate themselves from the demands of other educational institutions in their state, administrators at U.T. and A&M say they are actively involved in all aspects of the state’s education problems. But their efforts to engage in and even drive fundamental changes — like the new certificate program — are often overlooked in the state’s ongoing debate about higher education reforms.
“We collaborate with U.T. and others on these sorts of efforts regularly,” said R. Bowen Loftin, president of Texas A&M.
Representative Mike Villarreal, Democrat of San Antonio, who in the last legislative session added the amendment to the bill by Representative Rob Eissler, Republican of The Woodlands, said the involvement of U.T. and A&M was an important piece of the plan.
“That really sets the tone for the program,” Mr. Villarreal said. “It’s not about rushing students through high school. It’s really about excellence in education.”
Harrison Keller, the vice provost for higher education policy at U.T., who has quietly steered the new certificate initiative, said it was the first program of its kind in the country. “What you don’t have anywhere else is that it’s not just aligned with but it’s governed by the expectations of your two flagship universities,” Mr. Keller said.
Three weeks ago, at a meeting of the Association of American Universities, an elite group of research universities, William Powers Jr., president of the University of Texas, met with a handful of other presidents to discuss how higher-education leaders around the country could initiate similar efforts to address the faltering education pipeline.
“Education is in the news all the time,” Mr. Powers said later. “Leading institutions of higher education — A.A.U.-type universities — ought to be part of the solutions.”
In Austin, the Texas higher-education community has been locked in a debate over how to go about reforming higher education. The focus has largely centered around the reluctance of the U.T. system to embrace certain changes in higher education tied to accountability and productivity that have been championed by Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative research organization.
Mr. Powers said that the perception that his institution is in a defensive position when it comes to change, “is inaccurate and I’d even say ironic.”
He does take some of the responsibility for that erroneous impression. “If you take it in the aggregate,” Mr. Powers said, “the flagship universities have not been successful in projecting that innovation in higher education is taking place at these major public flagship universities.”
David Guenthner, a spokesman for the public-policy group, said he has recently been encouraged by comments from Mr. Powers and Mr. Loftin that signal an agreement about the need for reform in higher education.
“We just need to have a discussion about what exactly that looks like and what the objectives ought to be and the path to get there,” Mr. Guenthner said.
Many of the concerns of Mr. Guenthner and the policy foundation focus more on accountability and transparency than on college readiness in secondary education, although Mr. Guenthner said he supported efforts to speed the time to get a degree. Currently, 53 percent of U.T. freshmen get a degree in four years; the figure at A&M is slightly above 50 percent.
“My view is that ‘we’ve got to thoughtfully change’ has been a hallmark of my administration,” Mr. Powers said.
Mr. Powers noted that college readiness efforts increased productivity because the university could do its job at less cost when it had better-prepared students.
U.T. and A&M are also collaborating with high schools and community colleges to develop curriculum for secondary education that will pair with the new flagship-approved certificate. “We’re saying that if you want to make dramatic progress, we need to work on these issues before the kids get to us,” Mr. Keller said.
Mr. Blincoe, the Brownwood superintendent, said he is excited about the potential of the early readiness program.
“If it catches on, I think it would have far-reaching repercussions,” he said. “You could see us in 10 years moving more toward a competency-based model instead of seat-time.”
Its potential, Mr. Blincoe said, is enhanced by the participation of the flagship universities. Still, even though the initiative is barely off the ground, it is feeling the sting of the state’s fiscal woes. As part of the Legislature’s efforts to close the state’s multibillion-dollar budget shortfall, financing for an existing scholarship for students who graduate from high school early through traditional means has been zeroed out for at least the next two years.
A bill by Mr. Villarreal to create a similar financial incentive for students who take advantage of the new “Doogie Howser” program — financed by the money school districts save by no longer having to take care of them for a full four years — also appears stymied by concern over the budget.
Such problems have a way of bringing about new solutions, Mr. Villarreal said. “We are experiencing very tight times,” he said, “and so we’re having to question assumptions about how we do business.”
More in U.S. (32 of 39 articles)
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June (summer before your Junior year- look below for your April, May progress checks)
•Review the junior year admission strategy. This includes 12 basic steps to help students build their qualifications and prepare for next year’s college application and financial aid processes.
•Take the SAT Test™ this month (if you registered to take one or more tests).
•Update your student résumé to include freshman and sophomore year activities and accomplishments.
•Be active this summer. Work a job or internship, provide volunteer service, take an advanced credit course, attend a college summer enrichment program or perform other activities. Use summer months wisely to build your student résumé.
•If your summer activities include a job, internship, or volunteer service, give it your all and be outstanding. Work to impress your bosses and supervisors; these are people you may ask for letters of recommendation in the fall of your senior year . . . but only if you do an excellent job for them this summer.
•Visit a few college campuses this summer.
•Continue to build your vocabulary by reading during summer months (and throughout the year).
•Continue to build strong academic, language and critical thinking skills during your four years of high school.
•Parents – Plan to help your student with this year’s college admission tasks and with preparation for next year’s college application and financial aid steps. Plan on attending college campus visits, college information nights, and financial aid presentations with your student.
•Visit college and university campuses this summer. Visiting campuses builds a foundation from which you can compare colleges and universities next year when you apply for admission.
•Start / continue saving money for college. It’s smart to save, but beware of pitfalls.
•Start thinking about the cost of college and how much you and your family can afford. Knowing how much you can afford may help with deciding which colleges and universities to apply to in fall of your senior year.
•To get a head start on the financial aid process, start researching scholarships. Some scholarships are available exclusively for high school juniors.
•If you want to play collegiate sports, take the steps necessary in increase your eligibility and to market your athletic abilities to college coaches.
•Obtain a Social Security Card (if you don’t already have one). A Social Security number is required for college applications, standardized tests, and financial aid.
•Earn excellent grades this year. Junior year grades are the most important grades for getting into college. Junior year grades show college admission officers how well you do in advanced, upper-level courses and indicate if you are capable of handling college-level coursework.
•Make sure your fall and spring course curriculum
is rigorous. Take Advance Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and/or Honors classes. The level of difficulty of student coursework is one of the most important factors college admissions officers analyze when deciding on accepting applicants for admission.
•Join school clubs and organizations that interest you. College admission officers prefer students who demonstrate long-term commitment to their extracurricular activities.
•Join academic programs that recognize high-achieving students. Belonging to organizations that require student members to earn excellent grades will look good on your college applications.
•Prepare for the PSAT/NMSQT® given in October.
•Plan to meet with your high school/college-career counselor at least every six months to ensure you are on target for graduating high school and fulfilling college admission requirements.
•Plan to compete in contests, matches, and challenges. Earn honors and awards to build your student résumé.
•Be a leader in a few extracurricular activities this school year; be an officer in a club, serve on student council, start your own organization, etc. Leadership is one of the most valuable student qualifications sought by college admission officers.
•Start to think about colleges and universities you may want to apply to next fall. Write down college characteristics you prefer and discuss them with parents and friends.
•Plan to attend college fairs and financial aid seminars; learn as much as possible about colleges of interest (and the entire college admission process).
•Consider college majors you may wish to study. Research careers that may spark interest in a specific major; talk with your parents and counselor.
•Focus your extracurricular interests on activities you are passionate about. Your activities should be those you are prepared to keep involved with throughout your high school career; ideally, activities should support your student theme. A high level of involvement and accomplishment in a few activities is more important than participating in numerous activities on a surface level.
•Register for the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test® (PSAT/NMSQT) given at your high school in October. The PSAT/NMSQT is good practice for next year’s SAT Reasoning Test. Online registration for the PSAT/NMSQT® is NOT available; see your high school counselor for registration instructions.
•Visit with college representatives who travel to your high school. Remember to be professional in all interactions with college and university representatives.
•Obtain your high school CEEB Code Number. See your counselor for the code number or find it online. You will need this number when registering for the SAT® and ACT® tests and for next year’s college applications.
•Take the PSAT/NMSQT® this month. To be extra confident, familiarize yourself with the test ahead time by taking practice tests. On the test sheet, check the box that releases your name to colleges so you can start receiving information from them.
•Note future SAT® and ACT® dates if you plan to take the tests multiple times during your junior year.
•Meet with your high school/college-career counselor to talk about college majors and possible careers. Continue to develop a relationship with your counselor so he/she can get to know you and your interests.
•Continue to research scholarships for juniors. During your research, if you find scholarships for senior year students you’re interested in applying for next year, make notes for your future reference.
•Develop teacher and senior classmen relationships. Plan to use teachers and older high school students as mentors. Learn what you can from college-bound students going through the college admission process so you will be better prepared when you begin the process in spring of your junior year.
•Begin thinking about who you will ask for recommendations next year. Think about teachers, counselors, coaches, employers, and community members you might ask for letters of recommendation. Work to build hard working, respectful relationships with these people.
•Begin the process of selecting a college major. Consider your interests, skills, talents, and personality. It’s alright to begin college with an undeclared major, but deciding on a major while in high school will help with researching and finding the colleges and universities that suit you best.
•If you’re interested in attending one of the military academies, learn about the application process so you will be prepared to apply in spring 2012.
•Learn about financial aid. Merit-based scholarships are awarded based on your GPA, so do well in your coursework.
•Complete applications for junior-year scholarships with fall deadlines. Apply for national scholarships in which your qualifications match scholarship criteria.
•Research college summer enrichment programs for high school students. If you find a summer program of interest, start the application process next month.
•Do well on your final exams this month. Junior year grades are evaluated very closely by college admission officers; earn the impressive grades needed to be accepted to your college of choice.
•Review the results of the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test® (PSAT/NMSQT) to identify areas of academic weakness. Work to improve your weak areas so you earn the highest scores possible on the ACT® and SAT® tests you will this coming spring and next fall.
•Register for SAT Subject test(s)™ if your high school uses transition block scheduling (in which year-long courses are completed in one semester). Take SAT Subject Tests™ in January for the courses completed this fall. It’s best to take SAT Subject Tests™ as soon as you’ve completed the relevant class instead of waiting until the end of the school year.
•WARNING PARENTS! – Family financial transactions completed in the coming calendar year may affect your student’s financial aid awards. Work to increase your student’s eligibility for need-based scholarships and grants and avoid pitfalls!
•Work to ensure excellent teacher recommendations. Become well-acquainted with your favorite teachers; have them become familiar with your high quality of school work and involvement with extracurricular activities. Assistance from these teachers is VITAL TO YOUR SUCCESS as a college-bound student.
•Investigate college summer enrichment programs for high school students. Start filling out application materials for programs you wish to attend.
•Visit with graduates from your high school who are home from college on winter break. Try to get an overall picture of what to expect from college life. Ask these college freshmen for advice on completing the college admission process and how to avoid pitfalls.
•Earn top grades this semester – this is the last semester to earn excellent grades before applying to college next fall.
•Review your PSAT/NMSQT® scores. Work on improving your weak subject areas before taking the ACT® in April and the SAT Reasoning Test™ in May.
•Take SAT Subject Test(s)™ this month (if you have transition block scheduling and are registered to take SAT Subject Test(s)™).
•Update your student résumé. Include all accomplishments and activities from fall semester.
•Continue to think about college majors. Make a list of your top interests, values, and skills. Do research on possible careers that may generate interest in a specific major.
•Based on last semester’s grades, join academic programs and organizations that recognize high-achieving students. See your high school counselor for instructions on membership.
•Check with your high school/college-career counselor on your progress with achieving your four-year plan. Update your four-year plan to match revisions made to your education / career goals.
•Apply for college summer enrichment programs of interest. Many programs get booked early so submit your application as soon as possible.
•Continue participating in extracurricular activities (inside and outside of school). Dedicate yourself to a few extracurricular activities and work toward leadership positions. Sign up for leadership roles in clubs, organizations, committees, and other activities you are involved with this spring semester.
•Plan your senior year classes. Be sure next year’s classes include required courses for both high school graduation and admission to top colleges and universities. Your senior year curriculum should be challenging to show college admission officers you are ready for the rigors of college-level coursework.
•Apply to college summer enrichment programs (if interested).
•Continue to prepare for the ACT® scheduled for April and the SAT Test™ scheduled for May. Learn strategies for taking the tests, the types of questions to expect, and how to best use your time during the tests. It is recommended to enroll in classes given by an expert instructor who teaches test-taking strategies and approaches.
•Register for the ACT® schedule in April.
•Register for the SAT Test™ scheduled in May.
•Register to take AP tests if you are enrolled in AP courses. Work with your AP course teachers to make sure you are registered to take the tests in May.
•Begin searching for colleges and universities that best suit your needs. Identify schools of interest so you can complete both detailed research and college campus visits prior to the coming fall.
•Complete online registration for national scholarships.
•It’s important to be professional in all interactions with college and university representatives.
•Continue to develop respectful, hard-working relationships with your teachers. Good relationships result in superior letters of recommendation.
•Attend college fairs this spring. Remember to be professional in all interactions with college and university representatives.
•Visit with college representatives who come to your high school. Read information and ask questions to see if their school may be a good fit for you.
•PARENTS – Over the next several months, plan on attending college campus visits, college information nights and financial aid presentations with your student. Get informed to help with the important decisions that lay ahead.
•Register for a college summer enrichment program if you’re interested. Many programs get booked by early spring so don’t delay in finding the program you want to attend and submitting your application as soon as possible.
•Register for the ACT® scheduled in April.
•Register for the SAT Test™ scheduled in May.
•Register for the SAT Subject Tests™ scheduled in early June. Subject Tests™ should be taken as soon as possible after completing the relevant course in that subject.
•Complete your initial research for colleges and universities then select 10 or more schools to apply to next fall.
•Continue your efforts to select a college major (if you haven’t already done so). Examine careers you may be interested in pursuing; consider your interests, values and skills.
•Students’ first visit to college campuses usually occur during spring break of their junior year. Plan ahead and research colleges to visit and schedule guided tours and interviews.
•Plan your summer activities. Your activities should reflect meaningful and continued involvement in the things you are passionate about (and ideally have been involved with during your freshman, sophomore, and junior years).
•Interested in attending one of the United States military academies? If so, start the application process now.
•Check your e-mail notifications for senior year national scholarships that may be worth applying for next year. Keep notes on these scholarships and be ready to apply to them in the coming fall.
•Attend a college fair this spring. See your high school counselor for information regarding dates and locations of college fairs.
•Select 10 or more schools to apply to in the coming fall.
•Continue to be involved with school and community activities to build your student résumé.
•Plan your senior year extracurricular activities. Sign up to join school clubs and organizations that interest you and be a LEADER in those organizations.
•Take the ACT® this month.
•Register for the SAT Subject Tests™ scheduled in June (if colleges and universities you plan to apply to in the fall require SAT Subject Tests™).
•Continue to check national scholarship notifications. Print (or save to an electronic file) information on scholarships you want to apply to in the fall. If possible, get a head start on the process by filling out applications and writing scholarship essays this summer.
•Strengthen your relationships with teachers, counselors, coaches, employers and community members. These are the people you will ask for recommendations in the coming fall. Continue to get to know these people and expand your hard-working, respectful relationships with them.
•If you’re interested in attending a military academy, request information to learn about that academy and their admission requirements.
•Research opportunities for summer employment, internships, volunteering, or coursework. Use summer months wisely to develop and improve your student résumé.
•Take the SAT Test™ this month.
•Take AP tests this month.
•Narrow you college choices and select at 10-to-12 colleges and universities to apply to in the coming fall (if you haven’t already done so).
•Volunteer for leadership roles during your senior year: Run for class office, start a new club, be student leader in a community organization, etc. Leadership experience is one of the most highly prized student qualifications sought by college admission officers.
•Attend a college fair (if you haven’t already). College fairs offer an excellent opportunity to visit with admission officers and to compare and contrast schools for free.
•Take steps to obtain great recommendations from educators. Mention to teachers and counselors with whom you have established respectful, hard-working relationships that you plan to ask them for letters of recommendation this coming fall. They will appreciate being informed early and may place you on top of the stack of requests next fall. Say goodbye before you leave school for the summer and demonstrate some of the personal qualities college admission officers are seeking – be engaged and caring.
•Secure jobs and internships for the summer. Ask your high school counselor, local business owners and service clubs about summer jobs and internships that involve your college major. Ask early – the closer time gets to summer, the more likely the preferred jobs and internships will be taken by other students.
•Plan to work hard this summer to impress your employers, supervisors or course instructors; these are people you may ask for letters of recommendation in the fall of your senior year . . . but only if you do an excellent job for them this summer.
•If you will have a job this summer, save as much money as possible for college. However, beware of pitfalls.
•Consider enrolling in a community college class this summer. Taking a class will impress college admission officers and will put you “ahead of the game” by earning college credits before you graduate high school. Go to your local community college’s website to see the classes offered this summer.
•If you plan to major in Visual Arts, the colleges you apply to will require a portfolio of your best art work (or photographs). Save your best works of art from your junior year; you may have the opportunity to include them in your portfolio.
•Update your student résumé to include junior year activities and accomplishments.
•Be prepared to implement the senior year application strategy. The senior application strategy emphasizes the importance of highlighting your strengths and uniqueness to show that extra “something” that sets you apart from other college applicants.
•If you want to play collegiate sports, take the steps necessary in increase your eligibility and to market your athletic abilities.
•If interested in attending a military academy, contact an academy representative and start the application process as soon as possible.
•Consider taking a summer road trip to visit college campuses this summer.
•Discuss college options and costs with your parents over the summer. Keep in mind a small, private university may offer you substantial scholarships and cost you less than large, public schools that offer very little financial aid.
•Do well on your final exams. This semester is the last chance to boost your grade point average before applying to college in the fall.
•Prepare to take SAT Subject Tests™ next month.
•Parents – Plan to help your student with college preparation, the admission process, and college enrollment tasks over the next 16 months. Get informed and help with the important decisions ahead.
April 5, 2011, 6:00 am
A Daughter’s Decision Letter From Her Mother’s Alma Mater
By SOPHIA GIMENEZ
Cherry Creek High
Sophia Gimenez is one of six seniors at Cherry Creek High, a public school in Denver, who are blogging about their college searches.
•Series Introduction »
•All Posts in the Series »
•Sophia Gimenez’s Posts »
The news came so unremarkably.
It was a school day during the foot-dragging week preceding spring break, and I sat at my kitchen table transposing music for my orchestra recital alongside my mother, who was sifting through mail as dinner simmered on the stove.
With my mind crowded with the college chatter of classmates who were all receiving their decision letters, I asked my mother if any news had made it into the mailbox yet. My eyes never left the waves of notes on my sheet music, but my ears waited attentively for a response.
“Well, an e-mail from Scripps came,” she answered, gently.
The scratching of my pencil halted and I looked up in jittery excitement. She didn’t elaborate immediately, as if she was trying to concentrate on tearing junk mail into several pieces. The puzzling situation prompted a tumbling of emotions, including a debilitating chill at the base of my spine and, before long, the feeling of spiders crawling up my vertebral column to fester in the nooks of my insecurity.
To state it simply, I was freaking out.
“And…?” I inquired, my voice laced with mild agitation.
“Oh, you’re rejected,” she affirmed, in matter-of-fact fashion.
She finally turned her gaze to meet my blank face. She only looked at me for a moment, probably to make sure that I was still alive, then quickly returned her attention to the pile of mail.
“Oh,” I echoed back. “Whatever.”
My feeble attempts to appear nonchalant weren’t working, as evidenced by an entire page of sheet music that I transposed into the wrong clef. I was clearly upset. I found myself in rejection’s vise, and it was a horrible place to be. At first it felt like I was standing in an ice cold rain storm, hoping that the water level would rise high enough to drown in; then, my anger began to boil.
Why all the frustration and self-loathing?
Scripps College isn’t just any school. It is my mom’s school, her alma mater. Scripps was the plan from the beginning. My mother’s days at Scripps are among her fondest memories and her most prized experiences, so she wanted the same treasured journey for her daughter.
Although I was never in love with Scripps like I am with the other colleges I applied to, I sent in an application. I did so at least partly as a result of my mother’s excitement. I also knew full well that Scripps was a fantastic institution that does a great job of making strong, intelligent women into successful leaders, like my mom.
I had always known that I had a slim chance of getting in, and I wasn’t too bothered by it. However, as reality sunk in, I experienced an unforeseen discomfort. I am certain that my mom is proud of me and will continue to support me no matter which college path I choose, but in the dazed aftershock of my rejection, I couldn’t help but feel like I had disappointed her by falling short. I also felt as if I had disappointed myself by not measuring up to my mother’s academic caliber.
It dawned on me nearly a week later (when I wasn’t reacting to the rejection like a drama queen) that there was no need to stress out by comparing myself to my mother. My mom and I have different academic interests, we participated in different extracurricular activities, and we learned in different times and places.
Somehow I forgot that I am my own person, and that enjoying the positives — including my acceptances to my top picks — was a better attitude to uphold.
Now, I don’t look at my rejection from my mother’s alma mater quite as sourly. If anything, it reminds me that losing a potential college, no matter how personal the connection, should not divert my attention from the amazing colleges that are alive in the present and shining in the future.
Let’s just hope that the decisions I will soon receive from CU Boulder and CSU Fort Collins do not mirror the Scripps ordeal.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
You may have seen the initials EFC as you’ve delved through the mountains of college paperwork. The EFC, or Expected Family Contribution, is part of the equation that determines how much financial aid you may be eligible for.
Both colleges and the government use the following calculation to determine financial need:
Cost of Attendance – Expected Family Contribution = NEED
There are five core factors that are taken into consideration for calculating the EFC. They are 1) parents’ income, 2) parents’ assets, 3) student’s income, 4) student’s assets, and 5) a category called “other available resources.” And while these factors impact your EFC the most, Campus Bound counselors will help you examine other factors–family size, number of children in college, and others—that may affect your EFC. The exact formula involves a complicated weighting system with many colleges adding their own nuances. Understanding the formula can potentially save you thousands in college costs.
While the financial aid process and eligibility criteria can seem daunting and complex, it’s worth noting, that depending which schools your child has been accepted to, most financial aid packages will consist of a combination of grants and loans.