You don’t have to have all the answers just yet, but junior year of high school is the time to research your list of colleges, make note of important deadlines, and get ready for the admissions process this fall. The work you do planning for college now will help you feel more confident in the final applications you submit to schools. Luckily, there are lots of resources with important college admissions tips for kids and parents to improve a student’s odds of getting into the school of their dreams!
Colleges want to be your first choice and students can show they’re really interested in a specific school by actively participating in the recruitment process. College admissions officers call this “demonstrated interest.”
In a 2017 report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling, 13.7 percent of colleges surveyed rated demonstrated interest as having considerable importance in freshman admissions decisions. Another 25.5 percent said it was of moderate importance.
Show your enthusiasm for a school by:
Many schools use database tools to track whether applicants are opening their emails to determine your level of interest — so get clicking!
Taking advantage of early admission deadlines can give students another advantage when planning for college. Many schools have early action or early decision deadlines which hit in October and November. Early decision is a binding agreement that you will commit to attend that school if you’re accepted. Early action is non-binding and lets students and parents weigh the pros and cons of each school before making a final decision.
Among all colleges with early decision, their regular admittance rate was 50.7 percent, but the rate for early decision was 62.3 percent. For colleges with early action, the overall admittance rate was 64.1 percent and the rate for early action applicants was 73.6 percent, according to the 2017 State of College Admissions report.
Another benefit is that early decisions are usually released by late December, months earlier than regular decision deadlines. If you decide to apply early you will need to make sure you have taken and sent your ACT or SAT scores by the date required by your college, which is often October.
Test scores and your high school GPA are the two biggest factors in applying for college. Most juniors in North Carolina have already received scores from the free ACT they took in school in February or March. Consider taking the test again if you’re not satisfied with your score. Improving your standardized test score is something students can do now to increase the chances of getting into your top schools.
In addition to the free ACT students took junior year, the ACT and SAT are given several times a year and students will have to register and pay for each test, so it’s a good idea to spend some time on test prep. Take advantage of free SAT or ACT online study tools which include free practice tests, vocabulary builders, and test-taking strategies.
One great way to give yourself a leg up in the admissions process is to participate in extracurricular activities. Participating in a service club, a debate team, or playing a sport can help to present you as a well-rounded student. The same goes for part-time work!
Student enrichment programs are another excellent way for students to prepare for school. Signing up for student enrichment programs helps to teach new skills and displays a passion for learning and growth.
Just remember that it’s quality over quantity when it comes to extracurriculars. Find a couple of activities and focus on them. If you can work your way into leadership roles or your extracurriculars relate to what you’d like to study, that’s even better.
Everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone is comfortable talking about themselves. College essays are not something you want to crank out the night before the deadline. They’re an opportunity to show the admissions officer reading your application why you belong at their school.
If the schools on your list require an essay, start planning for your college essay topic now.
Share something you experienced and how you grew as a person from the process. If your grades freshman year were less than stellar, but you took positive steps to turn them around, write about it. If your school didn’t have a performing arts program and you created a proposal to get the theater club started, write about it.
Planning for college is a major milestone in a student’s life. Getting into the school of your dreams is within your reach if you’re willing to put in some work now and create a plan to ensure a successful transition from high school to college.