While it can be tempting to simply count down the days until summer break, spring semester is a prime time for high school underclassmen to prepare for the college admissions process, and for college-bound seniors to close out the year on a high note. Believe it or not, seniors, you are not off the hook just yet!
Here are some tips for high schools students to ensure a productive and successful spring semester.
Keep your grades up.
All Students: Admissions officers like to see an upward grade trend, so freshmen, sophomores, and juniors need to work hard to maintain good grades and improve upon not-so-stellar grades. Seniors, it is especially important to maintain spring semester grades because colleges will see your final transcript, and a dramatic dip in academic performance can result in a school rescinding an offer of admission. Just because you’ve been accepted doesn’t mean the work stops. Work hard to finish out the year strong.
Meet with your counselor.
All Students: One of the biggest mistakes students make is not meeting with their college counselor on a regular basis. Be proactive and set up meetings for the beginning, middle, and end of the semester, so you can check in regularly with your counselor and he or she can evaluate your progress and determine what you need to do to prepare for the admissions process. It’s also important to build and maintain a relationship with your counselor, as he or she will write a recommendation for you come college application time.
Begin building your college list.
Juniors: If you haven’t already, start heavily researching schools and determining where you want to apply next fall. Look into admissions requirements, academic offerings, courses, professors, campus life, student organizations, and anything else that will help you make an informed decision about where you want to go to college. A balanced college list should have a range of target, reach, and likely schools, so be sure to look into a wide variety of institutions.
Reassess your extracurricular involvement.
Freshmen and Sophomores: Sustained involvement in just a handful of activities over an extended period of time is much more impressive than many one-off participations in several different clubs or activities. Take a look at your resume and all your activities and determine which ones mean the most to you and align with your core interests. Cut out any activities you’re not completely invested in, stick with the ones you like best, and deepen your involvement by taking on a leadership position. Also, seek out new activities that you think better match your interests. If your school doesn’t already offer a club or activity that really interests you, then start your own student club or extracurricular project.
Start test prep.
Sophomores: Now is the time to start seriously thinking about the SAT and ACT and begin preparing for one or both. In one of the meetings with your college counselor, discuss both tests and come up with a timeline for when you should prepare and sit for these high-stakes exams. We recommend taking multiple, timed practice tests in order to identify content weaknesses, evaluate test-taking strategies, and to accurately simulate actual test day. Practice makes perfect, or at least improves scores!
Sophomores and Juniors: Spring is the best time to visit college campuses. School is in session, the weather is usually favorable, and you can visit during your spring semester breaks. Begin making plans to visit a few college campuses by sitting down with your family and discussing a trip and dates. Then do your research and register for information sessions, sign up for guided tours, and see if you can stay overnight in one of the dorms.
Plan for the summer and next fall.
All students: During your check-in meetings with your counselor, discuss options for summer activities or programs, and talk about what classes you need to take next fall in order to stay on track academically. Summer is a great time to deepen your interests with an internship or academic program, so do your research to determine what summer activity is the best-fit for your personal and academic goals.
If you need additional help mapping out a productive and successful spring semester, our team of expert counselors can help you set academic goals, choose appropriate summer programs, and advise on what you need to do now to be better prepared for the college admissions process.