Student Timeline for College Counseling: April 2017
Hey there, test prep gurus! It’s Virginia, here to continue to provide you with college admissions info for you to share with students and parents. Last time you got a general calendar of what should be done junior year by season. If you look closer, spring is the busiest season. Let’s dive into April a little deeper.
April of Junior Year
- Students must create a timeline for the spring and summer, considering all of the factors included here. Some have completed most of these items already, some they undoubtedly have not.
- Recommend that students take the SAT & ACT if they have not done so or if they haven’t reached their goal score. A great study resource is to your local Clear Choice test prep tutor. LINK
- SAT Test Dates: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/dates-deadlines
- ACT Test Dates: http://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act/registration.html
- How does a student determine a goal? By making this list and deciding on a range from realistic to reach score. They need to consider the following:
- Score ranges for a draft list of prospective colleges
- Score requirements for possible scholarships
- Most recent test scores, whether from a practice or formal test.
- Now they can think about what a realistic score increase would be. Here’s an example: A 1300 is an admirable SAT goal and it’s attainable if they’re starting at an 1150. But if their initial test score is a 900, a 400-point score increase is not very realistic. Sure, it can be done, but the average student does not have 40-hours a week to invest in SAT prep for months at a time. And that’s likely what it would take to make such a drastic increase. Determine a realistic score with the help of your guidance counselor if necessary, and then tack on about 50 points to motivate to set the bar high.
Double check this goal score against the list of prospective colleges and continue to adjust that list
Remember that at this point in an academic career, high standardized test scores are paramount. Overall grades are the most important factor in admissions, but these are based on years of study. Here’s a chance to study for a few months and rock the second most important factor in admissions while keeping grades as high as possible. Standardized tests level the playing field across the country; students want to stand out!
Line up summer activities
- Have the student think about what kind of activities will strengthen their applications
- Leadership opportunities in activities related to any existing talent, community service initiative, or school activity they are involved in are desirable to colleges
- Other opportunities include career-related jobs or classes at a local community college
- When doing senior schedules with guidance counselors, students should not count on super challenging coursework to necessarily bump up admissions chances. These are not typically considered in decision-making, but rather to ensure that they haven’t dropped the ball after the decision is made. They need to balance putting time into doing well the classes they are currently in while prioritizing study for standardized tests. If they don’t need to take the tests again, then the focus should be grade increases.
Time to prepare for SAT Subject Tests
- Subject tests should be selected primarily on the ability to do well in a given content area, and secondly as they relate to the desired major. They can go to the College Board's official website to learn more about Subject Tests and to answer practice questions to help determine which subject area is best.
- Remind students that if they take subject tests, they need impressive scores to make it worthwhile to even submit these scores to colleges
Some essay questions are available for colleges of interest
- With essay choices, students need to pick the personal statement(s) that best demonstrate a genuine insight into their personality, passions, and motivation. Those with a central topic that demonstrate growth are typically the most impactful.
- These essays are already published for 2017 applications:
- Common Application: http://www.commonapp.org/whats-appening/application-updates/common-application-announces-2017-2018-essay-prompts
- University of California: http://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/how-to-apply/personal-questions/freshman/index.html
- Outline, draft, and/or continue to work on college essays as time permits
- Guidance counselors and/or teachers can give feedback on essay drafts, so they need to be seen before the school year ends
- Starting now allows for multiple drafts
Coming up soon
- Student Tests
- May and June standardized tests
- AP and IB exams if applicable
- Find out each teacher’s policy on requesting and writing recommendations
- College list adjustment: ongoing
- More details about next steps will be included in the May blog post!
Bookmark this page so you can share this info with parents and support your students beyond test prep and throughout the college admissions process!
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Ms. Ruehrwein holds a B.A. in Education from Providence College and an M.Ed. from Harvard University. Throughout her twenty-five year career in education, she has been a Teacher, Counselor, Advocate, and Director of College Preparation Programs. Currently, she is the Founder and Owner of Total Student Support, her standardized test preparation and college admissions business. Ms. Ruehrwein is thrilled to live in her dream city of San Diego for ten years. When not spending time with her husband and eight-year-old little guy or helping get kids into college, she's playing volleyball, hitting the beach, reading, and traveling.