Jill Haley: What should I be doing right now for college? | TheUnion.com

Jill Haley: What should I be doing right now for college?

With many local students just now returning to the classroom, some are wondering if they are behind in their preparation to attend college. Let’s look at each grade and breakdown what students should be doing right now.


Ninth grade

Freshmen need to understand what classes are required to get into a four-year college. Known as the A-G classes, these are college prep courses such as lab sciences, world languages, and math. It is important to develop a plan to complete these required classes.

Grades are still the number one factor in determining college admittance. Develop good study habits in the ninth grade, and seek tutoring if needed.

Begin thinking of extra-curricular activities to take part in. While COVID has limited some choices, there are still plenty of opportunities in and outside of school.

When picking classes for next year, ninth graders need to decide if they could be successful in taking Advanced Placement (AP) or honors courses. With many colleges going test optional, grades in these advanced courses could be a major determining factor in admissions.


Tenth Grade

Continue with school activities and take a leadership role if you can. It would be helpful to keep track of your activities and awards in a spread sheet to make applying to college easier when the time comes.

Checkout opportunities to do volunteer or community service work.

Log on to college search websites and put in specific search criteria such as majors, and sports opportunities. College Board’s Big Future is a good site to do this, and it’s free!

When scheduling classes for the next year, continue with AP classes and Honors classes.


Eleventh Grade

The junior year in high school is the most important year in college admissions. For many colleges, this is the last full year of grades they will see. It is important to end the year with a strong academic performance.

It is still a good idea to take either the SAT or the ACT college admission’s tests. If you take them in the spring of your junior year, you can re-take them in the fall of your senior year to raise your scores.

When colleges open up again to students, juniors should try and visit colleges. Until then, colleges have virtual tours and offerings on their websites.

Begin making your college list, including some colleges you are pretty sure you can get into. A college list containing only the most selective schools is a ticket to disappointment.


Twelve Grade

Seniors in high school should begin hearing back from their colleges in the next few months. It is important to respond to any questions from the admission’s office as soon as possible.

If you have not filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) do so now. March 2 is the deadline for Cal Grants.

Carefully read any financial aid award letters.

May 1 is the deadline to let a college know you will be attending. This deadline is not flexible.

Respond to any housing correspondence to insure a place in the on-campus housing at a college.

Jill Haley is a retired high school counselor who now works as an independent college counselor. She can be reached at http://www.getyouintocollege.com or jillncca@gmail.com.

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