One of the issues that often comes up when I am talking with parents is when their son or daughter should start the college admissions process. Of course the answer varies but students generally should start thinking about the first stages of the process as high school freshman. As freshman, students need to be aware of the courses they are taking in high school and be aware that most colleges consider grades from all four years of high school.
Most colleges look at the academic courses taken in high school as the biggest factor in deciding who will be admitted. Ideally, students should consider taking four years of classes in the five academic areas of English, math, social studies, science and foreign languages. In deciding which classes to take in each of these areas the student should try to challenge themselves while being reasonable in their capabilities. If a student is not as strong in math, for instance, pushing to get through calculus may not be necessary. On the other hand, if the student is an aspiring engineer, not having calculus will be a serious impediment to that goal.
Since colleges prefer to see four years of the study in the academic subjects, planning your course work as an incoming freshman is necessary. For those students who may be considering a selective college, it is even more important to have four years of study in each of the five academic subjects.
Students considering selective colleges should also be considering whether they should be taking SAT Subject Tests and if so when. If your high school offers biology as a freshman then taking one of the Biology Subject Tests may be appropriate at the end of freshman year.
Now if you are a sophomore or junior that haven’t thought about any of the issues surrounding college admissions, don’t panic. But because there are many issues that should be considered to make sure you find the right college for your needs, now would be a good time to start getting involved.
Here is a college admissions time line for helping students plan what needs to be completed to keep on track for a successful application to college.