There is no one right time to start working with your child in the search for the right college for their needs. Todd Johnson, our college admissions counselor, sometimes begins working with students in the 9th grade advising them on the types of courses to take and extracurricular involvement. Depending on the school some 9th graders are also in a position to begin taking SAT subject tests. This sort of early preparation is helpful for all students as colleges get more competitive but is particularly important for students looking at the more selective colleges.
Todd Johnson often begins working with 10th grade students where he will work on some of the same issues as with 9th graders. In 10th grade, however, Todd also makes sure that students take the PLAN and PSAT if offered at their school for sophomores. Todd look at the results of those tests to start to get an idea of the type of colleges that may be best for that student. Visiting colleges often starts about this time as well and Todd works with families to identify different types of colleges to visit and what to look for in visiting a college. He will also start to discuss in more detail extracurricular involvement and the possibilities for leadership positions in future years.
Most commonly Todd starts helping students in their junior year where he begins to actually talk about the process of college admissions. This conversation includes helping the student to analyze their needs to determine what type of college would be most appropriate. Todd also works with the student to determine the timing for standardized testing, work on focusing the extracurricular involvement, discuss visiting colleges, and work to identify colleges that are appropriate for that student. Ideally, all of the testing is finished by the end of junior year and the student has identified which schools to apply to in the fall of senior year. Todd then works with the student through the application process in the senior year until the final admissions decisions are made.
Beginning the college admissions process later than the junior year gets more difficult because the student does not have as much time to reflect on and investigate the type of college they might wish to attend. However, Todd starts working with students at all stages of the process including seniors who realize that it is September and they haven’t done anything to prepare for college.
At all stages of the process Todd will work with the student and their family to focus on what the student is looking for in a college experience.
Todd Johnson also discusses with all families the issues surrounding the cost of colleges, how financial aid works and how that may impact the student’s college choices.