College Preparation Starts Now


So you’re a junior, you just got back your PSAT and now random colleges will not stop emailing you. I mean what do you even do? Do you want to go to a liberal arts school in Wisconsin? Do you want to even go to school? Where is Wisconsin? The college process can be incredibly stressful and it can make you feel completely helpless- however there are things you can do starting now to make it easier down the road.


#1- Talk to Your Parents

This step can be incredibly uncomfortable, but it is crucial that you talk to your parents about college as soon as possible. It is important to find out if their are financial or geographical restrictions for your college search. Money can be an awkward subject, but it’s better to find out sooner than later.


#2- Take a (mock) SAT and ACT

Now is the perfect time to start practicing for- and taking-both the SAT and ACT. I know this can feel a bit early, but I started studying first semester and was able to be done with both tests by April. Senior year is a stressful year, so try to front load anything you can.

Most experts say that students should take at least one timed practice test of both tests. Many tutors offer a service where they will time and score your tests for you- it’s significantly cheaper than a real test and nobody will see it but you.

#3- Start touring colleges

If you already have toured ten colleges or have a dream school you have wanted to go to since you were five that’s great- but if you haven’t it is no big deal. Once you’ve taken the SAT or ACT you can start to gauge what schools would be a good academic fit for you. A quick google search can tell you most school’s “middle fifty” (or their average score) and from there you can begin to research a school. However, if you are not in their middle fifty do not ignore that school, many schools do not weight scores heavily and some don’t look at them at all. If you find a school that you really are interested in try and tour it. Brochures and websites can only give you so much information, the “vibe” a campus gives off is incredibly important. I personally have toured schools I thought I would love that I ended up disliking and toured schools that I had no interest in that became top schools for me.

#4- Talk with your college counselor

You always want to make sure that you keep an open dialogue with your assigned college counselor. They can tell you about upcoming college fairs, college visits, and answer any questions that you could have about college. They’re a great resource to have and can help find the right college and scholarships for you.

#5- Pick classes that you are interested in

When you are picking your classes for senior year you want to balance a rigorous course load with classes that you are truly interested in. While taking AP and advanced classes is important, it is also ideal if you actually like your classes. When senioritis sets in, which it will, it helps if you are interested in your classes.

#6- Finish your college essay(s) during the summer

While it is tempting to completely ignore the college process over the summer, it is an ideal time to complete your essays. The Common and the Coalition Applications usually release their essay topics in the beginning  of the year, so it’s easy to pick a topic that work for you.

#7- Start the Common and Coalition Applications on August 1st

Both the Common and Coalition Applications open August 1st, so it is very easy to start them early. Filling out sections such as family information or activities take a lot of time to complete so try to do them before school starts.