Thinking About College?

A Few Steps For All Ages

It’s that time of year! Is it because football season has begun and everyone is wearing the jersey of their alma mater? Is it because College Recruiters are busy visiting schools and attending college fairs? Is it because seniors are beginning to talk about and apply to their various college choices? No matter the reason, college is on the minds of many. With that in mind, I wanted to share some steps all can take to move down the path towards college.

9th Grade

  • Start building your resume of activities both in school and outside of school. By starting now you can build up a record of activities, leadership, honors, awards, and volunteerism that will impress colleges.
  • Have a great start academically. Work hard and develop strong, academically focused habits that will follow you for the remainder of high school and beyond. By starting with a strong foundation now, you can build upon your freshman year success.

10th Grade

  • Begin to explore career options and the education you would need to access those opportunities. You are likely beginning to see strengths in certain academic areas, or have favorite courses you are taking. By doing this exploration now, you can turn an interest into a future major, career, and passion.
  • Explore the array of different college options. Large Research University or Small Liberal Arts College? Public or Private? Close to home or far from home? Begin to visit all types of campuses so you can have an idea of the experience that each type of school could offer. You can visit many different options close to home just to get a foundational idea before doing a broader search.
  • Consider taking the PSAT. You can get a foundational look at where you stand with standardized testing before the one that counts at the start of your junior year.

11th Grade

  • Take the PSAT (typically October of your junior year). This is the exam that qualifies you for the National Merit Scholarship program. The beginning of your junior year is also a good time to consider doing Standardized Test Prep.
  • Take the ACT and/or SAT in the spring and summer of your junior year. It is valuable to have standardized test scores available to use for college applications before your senior year gets underway.
  • Begin making your college list and visiting those schools. This will allow you to have a roadmap of colleges you want to apply to and the most up to date information from those schools about their admissions process.
  • Consider getting assistance from a College Consultant who can help you explore options for the best college fit; assist as you begin to put together application materials (like essays and resumes); and help guide your applications to completion during your senior year.

12th Grade

The time is now! The Common App, ApplyTexas, and most other College Applications open up for seniors to apply beginning August 1st. Wouldn’t it be great to finish all of your applications early in your senior year – before things get busy with school?

  • Make a calendar of all of the important dates and deadlines for your college choices.
  • You don’t want to miss opportunities because of a missed deadline! Finish your senior year strong!
  • Don’t get too distracted by your future – you still have important work to do now.

Brian Taylor is a College Planning Consultant in Academic Answers’ Dallas office. With more than 16 years of industry experience, Brian is an expert on holistic admissions application review and can help students determine their academic and institutional fit. His first-hand, behind-the-scenes knowledge is a great benefit to clients as they write their essays, create their resume, and work to craft their strongest admissions applications overall.

College Planning Consultant