With all of the changes that have occurred during the 2020-2021 academic year, it’s understandable that many students may feel off track with their college prep going into the Spring semester. Even if you’re normally really good at sticking to a schedule, it can be challenging to stay accountable when there’s so much uncertainty surrounding the admissions process this fall.
As a result of the ongoing disruption caused by COVID-19, some students may be delayed in beginning their college preparation. While it may be stressful to feel like you’re behind, it’s not too late for sophomores and juniors to get back on track.
Instead of panicking, students should focus on what they wish to achieve and create a plan of action. Here at IvyWise, our college admissions counselors and tutors are experts at helping students develop effective preparation strategies that align with their needs and goals. Here are some of our top tips for students looking to craft a college prep plan this spring.
Review Your Progress
Before you can craft a plan forward, you need a firm understanding of exactly where you are starting. Take some time to review how your high school classes are going, what (if any) test preparation you’ve already done, and your extracurricular involvement. Identify any courses that are currently challenging you and start to brainstorm opportunities to progress. Are you enrolled for the proper courses next semester? Do you need to take a more rigorous courseload or do you need to dial it back a bit? If your school doesn’t offer the classes you need where can you supplement that? You can always enroll in remote courses like MOOCs that relate to a class you’re taking or self-study for an AP exam. Reach out to your college counselor for help with determining where you are and where you need to go in order to get and stay on track with your college prep this spring.
Set Some College Prep Goals
Once you’ve taken stock of where you are with your college prep, it’s time to begin looking towards the future. Set 3-5 goals that relate to various components of the college application process. This could include building out your list of potential best-fit schools, registering for the SAT and preparing for it if you think you need to take it, and planning how you will spend this summer. When it comes to goal setting, it is best to choose actionable and specific goals so that you can measure your progress and make sure you’re living up to your objectives. While ambition is highly encouraged, it’s also crucial to be realistic. For example, instead of setting your goal to achieve a perfect score on all your AP exams, maybe you choose to focus on improving your performance on your lowest-scoring practice exams by one point.
Stick to a Schedule
It’s not enough to simply write out your goals; you also need to take action. With your list of objectives in mind, set aside time each week to devote to the goals you have chosen to prioritize. When it comes to scheduling, be specific and deliberate. For example, block off two hours on a Saturday to research colleges and take notes on the virtual tours that you participate in. Set a calendar reminder on your phone to hold yourself accountable and make sure you attend all the “appointments” you set for yourself.
Make Time for Yourself
There’s no way around it – the college admissions process requires time and effort. And stretching yourself too thin can result in college prep burnout pretty quickly. By creating a plan now, you can give yourself the time you need to achieve the goals you’re working towards while also making time for rest, hobbies you enjoy, or even just the occasional FaceTime date with a friend. Everyone needs a moment to unwind from time to time, so take advantage when you can. It is possible to keep your college preparation plan top of mind and prioritize related activities while also balancing some much-needed downtime.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
The college admissions process often feels overwhelming and it might seem more stressful amidst so much uncertainty. While students should take the lead on their college preparation journey, no one expects you to navigate every step completely alone. Reach out to your parents to discuss your concerns, what you’re finding challenging, and what you’re hoping to achieve. It can also be helpful to speak with your high school’s college counselor and/or an independent college admissions counselor for personalized guidance that aligns with your needs and goals. By working one-on-one with someone who you trust, you can identify any existing roadblocks and receive support to help you stay on track with your college prep.
Creating a strong college prep plan this spring is key to reaching your college admissions goals. At IvyWise, we work with students at all stages of their college preparation journey to help them have a productive and stress-free admissions journey. Contact us today to learn more about our Initial Consultation and how our team of college admissions experts can help you craft a plan to make the most of college preparation this spring!