- Start to think about what kind of a college environment will be the best fit for you
- Sign up for any college fairs or visits your school will be hosting
- Continue to challenge yourself through “college prep” coursework
- Explore opportunities to take on leadership roles in activities you love
- Sign up for the PSAT
- Sign up for SAT subject tests
- Continue to explore possible career paths and college majors
There are so many factors to consider when choosing a college: size, location, classroom environment, major, the type of school (i.e. Women’s College, HBCU, private, public, etc.), campus diversity, extra-curricular activities…the list goes on. Start thinking about what factors will be most important to you in the college-going process. One way to do this is to reflect on what you love most about your current high school experience and what you would change if you could. Talking to teachers, coaches, family members – anyone you know who has attended college – about their experiences is another great way to start learning about the differences between different types of schools and determining what might be a good fit for you.
Investigate whether your school will be hosting any college fairs, information sessions from college representatives and/or college visits throughout the year and be sure to sign up
Some high schools will actually host admission counselors throughout the year to come speak with their students about a particular college. Check with your guidance counselor to see whether your school will be hosting a college fair or college visits during the school year. Be sure to sign up for as many events as you can – this will also help you to learn more about your college options and narrow down what kind of school could be a good fit for you.
It’s important to remember that college admission counselors will be reviewing your entire transcript when they consider you for admission to their college. This means that it is crucial for you to not only continuously challenge yourself with college prep courses, but also keep your grades up each year.
Explore opportunities to take on leadership roles in activities you love (i.e. team captain, student counsel, club leader, etc.)
Remember that when it comes to activities, it’s quality not quantity. Colleges want to see that you are an engaged, well-rounded student who will not only contribute to their campus environment, but be able to balance the demands of college life. Taking on leadership roles in or outside of school demonstrates that you are a responsible, passionate, and proactive student – very desirable characteristics in a college applicant.
The PSAT is a practice exam for the SAT. Students will usually take the PSAT in the fall of their sophomore or junior year followed by the SAT in both the spring of junior year and the fall of senior year. PSAT scores are NOT reported to colleges. They are simply an indicator of how a student is likely to perform on the SAT and serve as a diagnostic tool to help you determine which areas of the SAT you may need to dedicate more study time towards. Contact your guidance counselor to sign up for the PSAT at your school. (Note: the PSAT is usually administered in October so you will want to contact your guidance counselor about registration no later than September).
Some colleges require applicants to submit both an SAT exam as well as SAT II Subject Tests. These tests are in specific areas that often align with courses you are taking in high school, such as English, Physics, U.S. History, etc. The best time to take a subject test is immediately after completing the class while the material is still fresh in your head. Therefore, you should try to register for these exams in the spring of your sophomore year. For a full list of subject exam options and registration information, visit The College Board’s website: http://sat.collegeboard.org/home. You can also use The College Board site to take some free practice exams before your actual test date.
As you continue your journey through high school you may find that your interests – both academic and extra-curricular – change. This is to be expected – high school is a time of growth and discovery – embrace it! As you develop new interests be sure to revisit some of the career and college major planning tools you explored in 9th grade to see if there are new options you should consider as part of your college search.