The High School Junior’s Guide to College Admission Planning 2022
Parents of high school juniors: it’s the time you’ve been waiting for!
How can you help your teen stay organized and a step ahead of due dates for college applications? With a little extra energy and focus now your teen can ease into an action plan and feel better about the college planning process.
College application deadlines always seem to arrive faster than we think, and, like everything else to do with raising children, time just flies.
But don’t panic! Yes, the process can be overwhelming and feel stressful at times, especially if you haven’t done it since you were 17! However, taking the process step by step, and month by month, can make that checklist seem a little more doable.
January Goal: Make a List of Potential Schools
There are countless factors you and your teen need to consider when choosing the right school, and the thought of deciding on the “perfect” one can feel impossible. Start with these questions to jumpstart the conversation:
Your student’s college preferences:
- Do they want to stay nearby or explore a new area?
- Are they looking for a smaller liberal arts school, a large state school, or something in the middle?
- Would they prefer city living or a more suburban environment?
Your student’s academics:
- What general interests do they have, even if they have yet to decide on a major? (And don’t worry if they haven’t – most haven’t at this point.) Which subjects do they excel in?
- What does their GPA look like?
- What are their academic strengths and weaknesses?
Following that conversation, you will be able to start brainstorming a list of potential colleges. Some should be “reach” schools, where your teen’s qualifications might be slightly below the average student they accept.
Others will be “safety” schools, or ones you are certain they will be accepted into.
It is still early, so if your teen’s GPA needs some work or their writing skills need development, please reach out for support. We offer top notch writing tutoring.
February Goal: Make a Standardized Test Plan
When you were applying to colleges, taking the SATs was likely an automatic part of the college application process.
Today, your student has more options, depending on which colleges they are hoping to earn acceptance into. Some continue to require either the SAT or ACT, while some require none at all.
Prior to the pandemic, some colleges were gradually becoming test optional in an effort to increase diversity among the student population.
However, the onset of Covid-19 sped up the process, and numerous schools adopted test optional and test blind policies. For the class of 2022, these policies will remain largely the same.
When making a plan for your teen, check out their college wishlist and which tests they might be required to take. (Helpful hint: test optional means if scores are submitted, admissions officers will look at them. Test blind means no scores will be viewed.)
Then, if a school is test optional, consider having your teen take a diagnostic test. If your teen tends to score above average for a particular school, including an SAT or ACT score might put them at an advantage.
March Goal: Schedule College Visits
By this month, you probably have a list of colleges. Take advantage of spring break and the approaching spring to tour some of those colleges.
Stepping foot onto the actual campus and talking to current students gives your teen a more solidified idea of what the school has to offer and whether or not it is a good fit.
Often, a student thinks they want a large school, only to feel overwhelmed when actually on the campus.
Or, your teen might think they want a school nearby only to feel, once on campus, they are missing something. Visiting schools help narrow down the schools to help your teen find “the one”.
At this point in the pandemic, just about every college website has an interactive online tour. This can be incredibly useful whether or not you are able to physically tour the campus.
These tend to be led by student guides, so your teen will still be able to see themselves “on campus”, even if it’s actually from your living room.
April Goal: Do the “Behind-the-Scenes” Essay Work
Before you know it, your teen will be overwhelmed by college applications, senior year commitments, extracurriculars, and more. For that reason alone, it is imperative to start brainstorming for the college essay well ahead of time.
Common App topics from the year before are always available online and change very infrequently. In general, though, the essay questions are broad and almost any topic can fit into one of the prompts.
If your teen does not feel ready for the actual brainstorming yet, encourage them to read. Reading is the number one way to improve your writing skills. And, as always, reach out for help when you feel additional support will benefit your teen.
Remember, though the college application process seems overwhelming now, it will be done before you know it and you will be dorm room shopping with your teen.
As you embark on the journey, focus on one small goal at a time, and cherish the remaining high school moments.