Now that it is 2018, high school seniors are mostly finished with their journey through the college process. It’s time for current juniors to begin thinking about their future and make some big decisions. Here are four tips on how to begin making those choices and getting started on the college process.
1. Take your ACTs/SATs
Junior year is a great time to take your standardized tests to see where you stand and figure out which test produces the best results for your style of learning and test taking. It is important that students at least have one test score to present going into senior year, rather than waiting until senior year to start testing. This way, students give themselves enough time to improve and re-test if necessary.
Also, keep in mind that many schools, like Rochester, have a test-flexible policy, which means if you decide the ACT or SAT isn’t indicative of your test-taking abilities, you can submit another standardized test score in their place (e.g., IB scores).
2. Sign up for SAT Subject Tests
Subject tests frequently go under the radar to students until they realize that their top choice or dream school requires them to take this test. Don’t be the student that finds out last minute and has to withdraw their application or take a test unprepared. Many schools either recommend or require students to take subject tests in addition to the SAT/ACT. This is especially true for students who plan on majoring in STEM fields. The best time to take subject tests is right after you take a course to increase the chances of scoring as high as possible. It is also frequently recommended that STEM students take at least one math and one science Subject Test, so check with your colleges and plan ahead now!
3. Start asking for recommendations
It is actually not the best idea to wait until the end of your junior year to ask for recommendations from teachers for college. By the time junior year is over, most teachers already have promised more recommendations than they can handle. For the teachers who care about the quality of a recommendation, they will only be able to take on a certain number of students. If you wait too long, a teacher who would have loved to write you a recommendation would have no choice but to reject you because their hands are already full. Start thinking about which teachers you would like to ask now and find out what their requirements might be for writing a recommendation.
4. Get in touch with your college counselor
Whether your school calls them a guidance counselor or a college counselor, you need to get in touch with the person who will be writing your counselor recommendation, as it is required by most schools. I find that there are two types of students in regards to contact with counselors. Your counselor either knows you by name or has never met you in their entire life. I am sure you can guess which one is better for college recommendations. Junior year is a good time to start getting to know your counselor by asking them questions about the college process and allowing them a chance to get to know your character. Building a relationship with your counselor will allow you to have a meaningful recommendation to send to colleges and strengthen your college application.
Whether you choose to apply to the University of Rochester or any other school, I wish you the best in your future endeavors. Good luck and start planning now!