As juniors are watching their senior friends get their college acceptances, they may be feeling some anxiety about starting their own college exploration process.
We suggest that juniors start with some self-reflection.
Is there a career you’ve dreamed about? Don’t worry if you aren’t sure what you want to do for a living or even what you would like to major in. If you don’t know, then think about your interests, skills, and passions. What are your favorite subjects in school? What do you like to do with your spare time? What are you good at? If you’re not sure, then start even broader. Do you like numbers or words? Are you interested in current events and politics? Do you want to study the arts? And, if you still aren’t sure, that’s okay, too. You can apply to colleges as undecided and spend your first year or more taking a variety of courses to help you discern what you like.
So, where do you want to be while going to college? Close to home? Far from home? In an urban, suburban, or rural environment? Somewhere that is sunny and warm or has snowy winters? Do you care whether you can easily fly home to visit? Do you want to be close to an ocean or mountains?
Next, consider the actual college. Do you like the idea of a large college with lots of school spirit and a talented football team? Do you want a school that has lots of opportunities to do research or internships? Or do you prefer a small school where the classes are small and the professors will call you by name? Do you want to be able to play an intramural sport? To join a fraternity? To participate in student government? Do you crave a diverse environment or will you thrive in a more comfortable environment?
Now, you can start to look at admission requirements. Are your grades and test scores commiserate with the middle fifty percent of admitted freshmen at the schools you’re looking at? If not, will you be able to bring your grades or test scores up this spring? Is there anything else you can do to improve your admissibility – start crafting a really great essay, or do something impressive this summer? And, if not, then don’t worry…you’ll just have to expand your list of colleges. And the good news is that there are lots of wonderful colleges out there. Research colleges on sites like https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/ and use search filters to find colleges that meet your preferences and credentials. Visit as many college campuses as you can. Use the college counseling resources at your high school, and, if you need more support, solicit help from an Independent College Consultant.
And, in the meantime, make use of your time before next fall’s application season by getting the best grades you can, registering and studying for the SAT or ACT, and continuing with your extracurricular activities. And, this summer make sure and find ways to be engaged….volunteer, get a job, learn to play the guitar, read a series of books by a specific author.
If you use this spring and summer to reflect and engage, you will be able to come up with a list of great-fit colleges to apply to, and hopefully a year from now you will be sharing your acceptances with your younger peers and giving them a few pointers as they start their college exploration process.
Spring of senior year is an exciting, anxiety-ridden time for students waiting for college admissions decisions. Deferrals and non-admits are disappointing, seeing fellow students get accepted results in mixed feelings, and waiting for your own results is just plain hard. On top of that, seniors still have to keep up their grades while they are beginning to process the idea that this is the end of a chapter in their lives.
My first piece of advice is to try to relax. Stressing about admissions decisions won’t do anything to change those decisions. You have worked hard for your grades, taken standardized tests, written personal statements, and completed college and financial aid applications. The hard work is behind you.
The next piece of advice is to not attempt to make sense of admissions decisions. You may be dismayed that you did not get into a college that your buddy with a lower GPA did get into, but you simply can’t analyze why. There are so many different parts of the application – coursework, GPA, standardized test scores, personal statements, extracurricular activities, the number of freshman spots available at a college, and the need for colleges to balance the student body – that there is no way to discern what it is that admissions directors see in some students but not others. With a balanced list of well-selected colleges, you are likely to get accepted to some great schools, even if you don’t get accepted to the top ones on your list.
Rather than fret, you can be productive with your time. First of all, make sure that you are reading every email from colleges and financial resources and setting up your applicant portals. If you applied Early Action and were deferred, follow all the instructions that the college has provided as you may be asked to reconfirm your interest. A college may not have received all of your transcripts, test scores, or teacher recommendations and may reach out to you regarding resubmitting those. You may be selected for an augmented review from the University of California, in which you may have to submit your mid-year transcript, complete a questionnaire, or obtain another teacher recommendation. You don’t want to miss any of these deadlines for submitting more information, as that will affect your admission decisions.
Also keep an eye out for any communication from the FAFSA and CSS Profile because you may be selected for verification and will need to verify the information you entered on your documents. Again, you don’t want to miss the deadlines for submitting this information as it can affect your financial aid offers.
Finally, make sure and notify any colleges you have applied to if your spring semester courses have changed from what you entered into your college applications. Perhaps most importantly, make sure to keep your grades up. Failure to notify colleges of schedule changes, as well as a drop in grades, is reason enough for a college to withdraw their admittance.
If you have any questions, or if you just want help understanding your college admission or financial aid results, please contact us, and we can help you decipher admissions results on an hourly basis. (If you’re currently working with us, the review is part of our program!)
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