Admission decisions may be coming soon for college-bound seniors, but for high school juniors, sophomores, and even freshmen, the college prep process is still top of mind, and there’s a lot that students can do before the end of the semester to get on track for their college goals. One of the most important things that students can do this spring – no matter what grade they’re in – is meet with their college counselor before the end of the semester.
College counselors are a valuable resource not only during the college application process but also in the years leading up to applying to college. College counselors have a wealth of knowledge about different colleges and universities, what they look for in applicants, and what students can be doing at any stage to prepare for the college admissions process. Counseling for high school students can be more rewarding when there is enough time to prepare and follow through on checklists and plans.
Summer will be here sooner than you think! So make a meeting with your college counselor before the end of the semester and be sure to ask these six questions before you’re out of school for summer break.
How Do My Grades Look?
The most important thing that colleges consider is grades! When meeting with your college counselor, it’s important to address where you are with your grades and whether or not improvement is needed. Colleges will look at all four years of grades, so a grade dip in your junior year after strong freshman and sophomore year grades can be a red flag. Conversely, an upward grade trend after a mediocre freshman year performance can signal to colleges that you’ve matured and are taking your studies seriously. Take time to evaluate your transcript with your college counselor and determine where grade improvements are needed and develop a plan to achieve those grade goals.
Am I Taking the Right Courses?
Colleges don’t just look at your grades – they look at the courses you’re taking, too. They want to see students taking classes with increasing difficulty each year, as it can help them determine if you’re ready for their college curriculum or not. So, when applying to highly selective colleges and universities, it’s not enough to have good grades, you also need to achieve high marks in advanced courses. Your college counselor should be helping you choose classes for the next semester, so make sure you both take time to examine your course load and compare it to your intended major and college list. If you want to study engineering, but are taking few science and math courses, now is the time to fix it!
Should I Devote More Time to Test Prep?
If you’re a junior, chances are you’ve already taken, or plan to take, the SAT or ACT before the end of the school year. Or, if you’re a freshman or sophomore, you may have already taken an SAT Subject Test or started prep for the SAT or ACT with practice tests. No matter where you are with your testing, a meeting with your counselor is a good chance to discuss your test scores, goal scores, test prep plan, and how that factors into your admission chances at your top-choice colleges. It’s also the perfect opportunity to discuss if additional test prep is necessary to achieve your goal scores.
How Does My Summer Plan Look?
Colleges like to see what students are doing outside of the classroom, especially during summer break. Now’s the time to start thinking about how you plan to spend your summer. When meeting with your counselor, discuss your summer options and whether or not you’re making productive use of your time. If you plan to attend a summer program, make sure you’re on track to meet all necessary application deadlines. If you’re doing an independent project, discuss your plan and how you’ll present this activity on your college applications. Use your time with your counselor to develop a solid summer plan.
Is My College List Balanced?
If you’re a junior, you should already be building and refining your balanced college list. A meeting with your college counselor this semester is the perfect opportunity to get feedback on your college list, including if it’s too heavy on reach, target, or likely schools. This is also a good time to get some additional school choices from your college counselor. Counselors, both school-based and independent, have extensive knowledge about different institutions, and they can help you identify best-fit colleges or universities that you may not have heard about or considered before.
How Can I Get Started on My Personal Statement?
Current juniors should also be thinking about their college application strategy this summer. Now that the Common Application allows for account rollover, students can get started on their Common App and essay well before August 1. Ask about brainstorming tactics, discuss topic choices, and more when meeting with your college counselor. For many, this is the last opportunity to get feedback from their school-based counselor before the start of senior year, so get as much info as you can. For those working with an independent counselor, there will be more opportunities for feedback and essay editing during the summer, but now is the time to start developing a plan for tackling those essays before senior year.
If you’re not on track with your college prep, it’s not too late! The spring is the perfect time to catch up and get ahead so that you’re prepared for the next step in your college admissions journey. For more information on how IvyWise can help you catch up and stay on pace with your college prep, contact us today for details on our Initial Consultation and ongoing college counseling programs.