Start College Admissions Planning Right Now!

One of the biggest mistakes made during the college admissions process is not starting early enough. Now that you know it’s important to start early, when do you begin? Third grade is too early; eighth grade is just about right.

Since your child’s official high school transcript begins with the first day of ninth grade, it’s a sound strategy to initiate college discussions with your child in the eighth grade and set goals before the first day of high school.

Reams of information have been published about the college application process during the junior and senior years. I’d like to introduce you to some ideas that you and your child can implement during the middle school and early high school years. View them as a foundation; start with them and build incrementally until junior year when the process needs to become more rigorous.

Let me be clear. Starting the college admissions process early is not intended to bulk up your child’s application with meaningless accomplishments. The goal is to have calm and instructive discussions about college that lead to a strategic action plan that supports and illustrates your teen’s interests and passions.

Middle School Years/Eighth Grade

o If available, your child should take Algebra I in the 8th grade to ensure that he or she is on track for senior year Calculus. Strive for the highest level of math your teen can attain.
o Meet with your child’s school counselor to develop a 4-year college preparatory plan. Use this plan as a baseline guide that is revised as your child learns more about his or her interests.

Freshman Year
Encourage your child to:

o Develop sound study habits
o Set academic and extracurricular goals
o Take challenging courses

Sophomore Year
Learn the college-bound calendar. Highlights include:

o October: Take the PSAT. Note that the PSAT should be retaken during Junior year to qualify for National Merit Scholarships.
o April: register for SAT IIs (if applicable). Visit colleges during spring break
o May: revisit academic and extracurricular goals. Plan for Junior year.

In the next issue we will introduce strategies for college-bound juniors and seniors.

P.S. Seniors should continue to study hard and not give in to senioritis. Colleges will rescind offers if grades dip significantly.