It’s hard to believe that summer is over, and a new school year is upon us. Students from all high school grade levels should be preparing themselves now so that they will stand out on their college applications. Waiting until the last minute is never a good game plan. At Moxie, we know that every year and every decision counts. If your student is planning on attending a four-year college, there are a lot of things to check off. Remember that grades, test scores and extracurricular activities must represent them in the best way possible.
To help you and your student start the new school year off on the right foot, the International College Counselors recommends the following:
Review class schedules.
Ideally, this should be done prior to the start of the new school year, but it’s not too late to review class selections and make any necessary changes. Classes should be challenging, but not too difficult. Grades will suffer if students are in over the heads. Grades and the difficulty of the course load are the most important factors considered by college admissions teams. As a result, it’s important to find the right balance when choosing classes.
Get organized this new school year!
An organized student is a prepared student. Learning to keep track of dates and deadlines is important now, and in college. With full schedules, many students find themselves feeling stressed. One of the best remedies for that is organization. Students should learn to use a calendar – whether it be on their phone, or in a planner. In addition, they should write notes and reminders to themselves so that they won’t miss out on any important dates. This will also help avoid being ill-prepared for assignments and other tasks.
It goes without saying that grades count in the college admissions process. Students need to take that seriously. Additionally, they should work their hardest to complete assignments and homework on time, and study hard for tests. Now is not the time to be shy if you need help, either. It is imperative to seek help from a teacher or tutor before falling behind.
Stay involved – participate in clubs, activities and sports.
Colleges are seeking well-rounded students. They love students who are involved. A new school year is an opportunity to try out new clubs and activities, as well as those previously enjoyed. This can be intimidating for some students – especially freshmen. Remember, the goal is to find something they like to do and to learn new life skills. Also, sharing their skills with others and ultimately working their way into leadership positions can result from these opportunities.
Master a talent, subject, or hobby this new school year.
Encourage your student to set aside the time to become proficient in a talent, subject, or hobby. It can be anything – the stock market, knitting, dance, violin, starting a YouTube channel, becoming an expert in recycling or fitness. Encourage them to seek out internships or mentor others in their field of interest.
Research and apply for scholarships.
There are thousands of scholarships available to students in all grades of high school. You can start researching on fastweb.com and scholarships.com. You can’t expect to get a scholarship if you don’t apply for it, so encourage your student to research and apply for them before the deadlines creep up.
Read, Read, Read.
You need a good vocabulary and excellent reading comprehension skills in order to excel on standardized tests like the PSAT, ACT and SAT. The best way to build a vocabulary and strong reading skills is to read. Whether it’s your local library, The New York Times Best Sellers List, or a book club – there are plenty of great choices on every subject possible. Even magazines in a specific area of interest provide excellent reading material. The point is to read as much and as often as you can to increase your vocabulary and comprehension skills.
Watch social media posting this new school year.
What students post on social media matters. College admissions offices have been known to deny and/or rescind admission offers based on controversial and offensive posts. Embarrassing and potentially harmful content should never be posted. It’s not worth it if it jeopardizes your chance of going to the college of your choice.
Make good choices.
We’ve all heard it before: One bad decision can change a person’s life. Yet it’s the same things we tend to read about time and time again that ruin young lives – especially texting and driving and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. All of these are serious offenses, but colleges are not very tolerant at all when it comes to drug and alcohol abuse. Remind your student not to get in a car with someone who is under the influence, and to not give in to peer pressure. If they are ever in an uncomfortable situation, tell them to call a trusted adult, and remove themselves from the situation.
If you have any questions about the best way to approach the new school year or have questions about our college counseling services, please contact us.