I talk to many families that wait until junior year, and sometimes even senior year, before talking to anyone about the college admissions process. While that can work, here are some reasons why I think you shouldn’t wait that long:
1. Early planning is often required to take all of the necessary classes. The ideal curriculum for most students is 4 years of each of the 5 core subjects: English, math, science, social studies and a single foreign language. The problem with that schedule at most high schools is it doesn’t give you a lot of options of when to take things. Doubling up in math may seem to make sense for the strong math student but if it comes at the expense of a foreign language class you may be doing yourself a disservice.
2.Early planning is necessary to take the SAT or ACT on time. I tell students that they want to complete standardized testing by the end of junior year. But if you wait until halfway through junior year to think about this issue it can be hard to do. Which is the better test to take? SAT or ACT? And how many times should you take these tests? What about SAT subject tests? Do you need to take those? Depends on the colleges you are considering.
I general recommend that students take an actual test twice in the spring of junior year. But there are limited times you can take the tests and if you haven’t prepared early on for the test, then you may not get the score that best reflects your abilities.
3. Extracurricular and volunteer activities are important to colleges. If you wait until junior year to start volunteering or focusing your activities it is probably going to be too late to be competitive for a selective college. Selective colleges are not looking for students who are involved in lots of activities. They are looking for students who have a passion or a focus on one or two areas. To develop that passion often requires several years so early involvement is necessary.
4. Early planning can make admissions easier. if you don’t plan the college admissions process early on during high school, you will probably not be in a strong position to decide which colleges are the best option for you. And until you know what your college options are, you can’t begin to consider things like early decision. Early decision is not for everyone, but without early planning you won’t even have it as an option to consider.
5. Early planning helps determine the best college options for you. With almost 3,000 four year colleges in this country the process of finding the right colleges for you takes some time and effort. If you haven’t planned out your classes, your test dates or your activities, it can be difficult to even figure out what your best options are.
6. Starting early can reduce the stress. By starting the college admissions process early on, students can better understand how each step works and how to become the strongest possible candidate for college. They don’t need to rush test taking and applications senior year because they will have already planned everything out.
7.It doesn’t cost more to plan ahead. When I work with a student the cost is the same whether I start working with the student in 9th grade or 12th grade. I do this to encourage people to get involved with the college admissions process as soon as possible. Spending a little time early on in the process makes the entire process go more smoothly and often with a better result for the student.
Ready to get started on the college admissions process? Give me a call and let’s talk.