I took a look at this article this morning and thought about how simple the ideas are, yet a lot of high school students are unfortunately not counseled or informed enough to begin to think along these lines at such an early time. Most 15 and 16 year olds are thinking about their next game, their latest high school crush, or getting their driver’s license, not about their college plans for 2 -3 years down the road. It seems a bit unfair that they should have to think about such important things at a young age, but that is what the process has become and it is in their best interest to start early.
Starting to think about college early does not mean students have to give up their youth and stress themselves out, but rather, they should start to take it into consideration. As the article states, ‘Your future, however, will be built on the foundation you lay out today’. The classes and activities the students choose to pursue, especially from sophomore year on, have the potential to make a big impact on their college admission process. Simply sitting down with a counselor or parent, doing a little bit of research into what it takes to get into colleges, considering what types of colleges they may be interested in, and setting some goals for each year and high school in general would be an excellent start to the process. This process should definitely start sometime during the beginning or middle of sophomore year at the latest.
I start working with juniors on their essays during the late summer before their senior year. This means they should already have a somewhat set list of schools to which they want to apply. They often underestimate how many they will need to write and the time needed to complete them well. Once the school year starts and students jump into their schoolwork and extracurriculars, it is hard for them to find the time to sit down and focus on their writing when the deadline seems so far away. As mentioned in the article, starting the applications 2 months earlier than expected to is a great resolution for juniors to have. Starting in August or September instead of late fall will give them a great head start and cause way less stress as the deadlines approach.
Once my seniors have completed all applications, I try to get them to relax and enjoy what is left of high school. The colleges usually have somewhat clear deadlines as to when they will inform students of their decisions and there is not much to do in the meantime aside from continuing to do what they have already been doing, working hard on their schoolwork and maintaining or improving their academic standing. Unfortunately colleges are unable to truly get to know each student before making an acceptance decision. Seniors should indeed ‘remember that admissions decisions do not solely determine their intelligence or future’. Every college has something great to offer, students just have to take advantage of it. I do believe that some colleges are better fits than others and strive to help students find the best matches, but ‘the perfect college’ does not exist. Witte said it perfectly when he said, ‘Above all, remember that college is one part of a journey’. It can be a spectacular part of it, but it is not everything and it is certainly not the end.
Have a Happy New Year and keep these thoughts in mind!