A few weeks ago, our blog post highlighted the importance of 9th-grade students beginning to think about college. As crazy as it sounds, it’s imperative that every year of high school be taken seriously in order for students to have the choices that they want later. 9th-grade students should immerse themselves in extracurricular activities such as Model UN, the Business and Finance Club, or the performing arts, so that by the time they are seniors, they have tangible evidence that they have contributed to their school inside and outside the classroom.
If 9th graders are already doing this, then 10th graders are on the clock even more. Think about it: in 18 months, your sophomore child will be applying to college. That means that college visits need to happen, standardized testing should be taken and initial schools and strategies discussed based on strengths and interests. Parents of spring semester tenth graders call us quite frequently this time of year because their aim is to be proactive. Most high schools do not begin to introduce the college process to students until January of the junior year. While that’s fine, many parents believe that it does not leave enough room for ample exploration — personally for the student and for college visits. Even more, anyone who achieves what they want in life usually plans well in advance.
10th-grade students at this point in the year need to be thinking about:
Course selection for junior and senior year. There has to be greater, albeit, appropriate challenge on a student’s transcript. Students who take questionable light courses in the junior and senior year will not fare well with competitive, prestigious colleges. 10th graders are given little choice with their classes. 11th and 12th graders are given much more. They should receive counsel and choose wisely.
Summertime is not solely funtime. We all need a break during the blissful months of June, July and August, but for many students, their exhale after 10th grade is brief. There are a multitude of summer activities and academic enrichment courses that students can choose from that will help with their college process. Colleges like to see active and engaged summers that may include volunteering, working or diving deeper into a science, math, technology, English or foreign language curriculum. There is no better time for a student to prove how invested they are in learning and being a strong applicant than the summer.
Testing is coming, so ATTACK it!! The stress of ACT and SAT test prep and the actual test can be exhausting for everyone. However, if a student takes a diagnostic practice test at the end of sophomore year, and starts to prep a bit in August, there’s a good chance that fall test may be suitable. We have had many students use the summer before junior year to test prep, and they were happy that they did. It’s not an ideal summer, but by working now, it usually means focusing more on coursework during the school year.
All students and parents entering the junior year should have a Strategy Session to lay the foundation for what is on the horizon. Do not take this college search and application process lightly and assume that time is on your side. 18 months will come and go faster than you think.