(This essay first appeared on The PediaBlog on August 11, 2016.)
Attention high school students — this PediaBlog is for you!
Whether you are a rising high school freshman or a rising senior, dominating the process of college admission should be in the front of your mind. And it is a process that requires your attention, your parents’ support, and your time.
Rising Seniors: Whew! You’ve made it to the beginning or your final year in high school! Your junior year, arguably the hardest academic year you will ever face, is like last year’s AP U.S. History class — it’s history! Now you can sit back and relax, right? Not so fast.
If you have been reading the last 3 posts on The PediaBlog, then you rightly expect that there is still more work to do if you plan on going to college. Look at your calendar right now — you will be arriving on the campus of your choice in about 12 months! If you haven’t kept up with the previously offered recommendations regarding the college admission process, this would be a good time (maybe your very last opportunity) to capture that spark, ride that wave, and get moving!
This year you will need to hit the ground running with your class work. Do not get behind on your assignments and homework now; your grades are still very important. This fall you may need to retake the SAT and ACT standardized tests so make sure you schedule and prepare for them now. (Ditto for those who may be required to take the SAT II (Subject) tests for admission to specific schools.)
The actual application to colleges and universities happens almost entirely online. There are more than 700 schools that accept a single application — The Common App — which simplifies the process (which you have already dominated) of applying. Some schools use the Common App to gather data on who you are and what you’ve been doing the last 4 years and then add a supplemental application that needs to be completed. In this case, there may be additional essays you will be expected to write. There are still schools that only use their own individual applications — with their own specific essays — for admission.
Whichever application that is requested from whichever school you apply to, you will be completing your applications this fall. Go to your calendar and mark down a deadline date when all your applications will be finished and submitted. (This date may be tweaked depending on whether you will need to meet some schools’ “Early Decision” or “Early Action” deadlines.) If you’ve played your cards right and dominated the college admission process, everything will be done in time for you to enjoy your Christmas vacation!
And then you can relax, right? Almost. Grades are still important; you need to finish out 12th grade strong. If you take AP tests in May, try to do very well on them. Good scores may equal college credits next fall.
They say that college is the best four years of your life. That’s true, but it’s really the best four-and-a-half years, and that begins when the college or university that you have chosen to attend chooses you also. It’s a great feeling to know that you’ve earned the opportunity ahead. You’ve dominated the process. You deserve it!