JUNIOR YEAR – 11th GRADE COLLEGE PLANNING CHECKLIST
- This is the year to start really talking about college with your student.
- Make sure your student takes the most rigorous classes possible. Grades and course rigor are important to admissions officers.
- Continue pursuing extra curriculum interests, whether at school or in the community. Pursue an interest in-depth that reflects something you are passionate about. According to independent college counselor Lisa Bleich, colleges no longer want “well-rounded” students, but rather are looking for students who are unique, focused, and angular in their interests.
- Create a test prep plan for taking your first SAT and/or ACT. Take the PSAT and PLAN. Review the year’s scheduled dates for SATs, ACTs, and SAT subject tests. Depending on your student’s results, plan test dates so they can take the test twice before the start of senior year. Senior year is very stressful and students should consider taking the SAT/ACT in the fall of senior year only if they feel they can do better than previous tests. The summer before 11th grade, make a plan for test prep and a schedule for which SAT/ACT tests you plan on taking.
- Get serious discussing majors and careers your student may be attracted to.
- With your student, start creating a draft list of colleges he/she may be interested in. Include schools that are reach, most likely, safety, as well as schools that will be financial safety schools that your family can afford.
- Research each school online – check out if the potential major is available and course requirements. It’s also worthwhile to look at a school’s student newspaper and career center.
- Request information from school your student is interested in.
- Start visiting schools, if possible, at times that students are still on campus. Prepare questions to ask campus tour guides. Write down your impressions as soon as the tour has finished.
- Attend college fairs in your area and sign in at schools your student is interested in.
- Consider which teachers you would like to ask for recommendations.
- Create a physical and online folder to keep all your information and brochures.
- Stay abreast of when Common App essays are released (late spring or early summer)
- Start brainstorming essay ideas, as many as you can.
- Start working on applications and essays over the summer. There is too much pressure once senior year begins and good essays need time for cultivation and revisions.
- Make the most of this summer. Use your summers to continue pursuing your out of school interests or fine-tune any academics you’d like to strengthen.
- Don’t create accounts on college search websites. Just use the sites to search and compare. Many track online actions that you may not be aware of and sell this information, along with your data as leads to colleges.
College Financial Suggestions:
- Consider schools that are “financial safety” schools. Include schools that are “financial safety” schools on the list.
- Make a list of net prices at each school on the list. Start looking into net price calculators for the schools on your student’s list. The College Board has a link to every school’s net price calculator. College Abacus lets you enter your information and financially compare 6 schools at once.
- Know which financial aid forms and calculations each school uses that are on your students college list. There are 3 types of financial aid forms: FAFSA, Profile, 568 President’s forms. Some schools use, one two or all three forms. Know that ahead of time before applying. A parent’s tax year, starting January of a student’s junior year is the tax year that will be used to make financial aid decisions during the college admissions process. Start understanding what options you may have to maximize your financial aid eligibility.
- Continue your scholarship search. Be weary of “no essay” scholarships or ones that don’t ask for much information – they are just like sweepstakes with companies looking to gather your information. Don’t ever pay a fee to apply for a scholarship. Chances of winning a scholarship are highest when applying to locally sponsored scholarships, so start researching a creating a list. Review Confessions of a Scholarship Winner.
CONNECT WITH OTHER PARENTS FIGURING OUT HOW TO PAY FOR COLLEGE