The motto for March is: It's never too early to start your college application process. High school juniors should begin creating your own 'criteria' (size of school, geographical location and setting) reference what they think they want out of their college experience. A few will know exactly where they want to go to college and what they want to study, but they are in the minority. The bulk of students have no idea and need to throw their net out wide and look at all kinds of schools to gather information before knowing where they’d like to apply.
Today, the stress about gaining admission to those first choice schools is as prevalent as ever, but there is no need to panic because the perfect school for you is out there, you just need to identify it. However, students with high GPA/class ranks, as well as those with low GPA/class ranks, can do themselves a huge favor by starting early and being realistic about their chances of gaining admission.
• SAT/ACT scores - It is too late to register for the March 9th SAT, but there are two more test dates available this academic year: May 4th with an April 5th registration deadline and June 1st test with a May 3rd registration deadline. Click here to register today.
There are three more ACT test dates this school year: April 13th with a March 8th registration deadline, June 8th with a May 3rd deadline, and July 13th with a June 14th deadline. Click here to register for the ACT.
Proficient in a particular subject? Take the SAT Subject Tests & AP Exams, tests that enable eligible students to highlight that academic strength. Strong scores on AP exams could also result in college credit.
Eligible students should use fee waivers.
• Check your transcript - Get a copy of your unofficial transcript and check it for accuracy. Are the classes listed and corresponding grades correct? Will all the state mandated requirements for graduation be met by June 2020 - especially important for those who might have attended more than one high school? Make your application as competitive as possible by aiming to get as close as possible to the 4x5 formula.
• Campus Visits - No campus visit is ever a waste of time. Much can be learned about what a student is looking for in a college after having visited a school they don't like. Keep track of the little things and listen to your intuition. Few spots on a campus will better tell you if the school is a good personal fit than the cafeteria, library and dorm. Don't miss out on this chance to ask a few questions that will provide you with even more helpful information.
• Extra Curricular Activities - All students are so much more than their grades. How they spend their time outside of school speaks volumes to admission officers, and remember the golden rule: quality over quantity.
There are many other little tasks to the college application process, (selecting recommendors, filling out the FAFSA), but students who begin to focus on these now will be way ahead of the curve come September, and their stress level will be that much more manageable.
March is that deceptive month in the college application process when it looks like nothing is happening, but don't let the quiet fool you. For those who were admitted Early Decision (ED), much of the college oriented work is done and the focus is on finishing high school with a bang. Students who received rejection letters must stand up, dust themselves off, and move on to those schools where they have been admitted, while those who were wait listed can explore their options. Always try to get off that list, but know that the odds are not in your favor so have a Plan B in place.
Applicants admitted Early Action (EA), Prioirity or Regular decision must now evaluate the schools that admitted them and select which one they want to attend. Don't forget that your guidance counselors will be sending out Common App final reports - essentially a senior year transcript - to the school you have chosen to attend, so now is not the time to allow senioritis to take over.
In addtion to trying to make that final decision, here are some of the other points that should be finished this month.
• Completing financial papers - By now everyone should have filed the FAFSA in order for the colleges and universities to calculate the financial aid packages they offer students. Don't let those federal, state and college financial aid deadlines slip through the cracks. Call the Financial Aid Dept. if you have any questions. Don't miss this opportunity to get help paying your tuition!
• Scholarships with March deadlines - A good deal of scholarships are still available. If they require an essay read the prompt carefully and look back at all those essays you wrote while applying to colleges, there might be copy that can be used to create a new essay with minimum effort, but always make sure you've addressed the prompt.
• Campus visits - Take this opportunity to revisit those schools that admitted you before making that big decision. As an accepted student your perspective will be different and so should your questions. This campus will be your home for the next four years, so make sure it has everything you want and need. If you've already chosen which college you will attend in the Fall, make sure to send in the necessary documents to secure your spot. Circle back to those you will not attend so that they may reach out and offer your now vacated spot to another candidate.
The top three components of a student’s application continue to be the rigor of the high school transcript, class rank/GPA and test scores. While still important, two of these criteria - the GPA & test scores - are beginning to carry less weight in the eyes of admission officers. The result is that more and more schools no longer require test scores from applicants, relying more on the rigor of the transcript, grades, and extra curricular activities. Schools are looking for those students that they feel will be the best fit for their school so make sure the application your submit in the September puts your best foot forward.