High School Check List

Moxie College Counseling helps college-bound students thoughtfully map out their goals and a plan to reach them, while empowering them to discover a true sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Moxie activates students by helping them take ownership of this introspective and rewarding journey toward college. As you move along your own journey, check out these milestone moments to ensure you stay on track.

During your transition into a high school workload, make sure that you are looking out for ways to work smarter in addition to working harder. Defining beneficial study habits here will pay dividends on both your transcript and your mind come junior and senior year. Yes, grades are as important here as they are in the years ahead, but make sure that you also find your own rhythm and balance. If you find yourself struggling with a particular concept or class, seek out help from teachers, parents, or tutors! It’s much easier to address these challenges early on then to dig out of a whole later.

Find your people. The point of high school is not to get into a dream college, but rather to develop yourself as a bright young person who colleges would love to have on campus when the time comes. For this reason, don’t be afraid to explore different extra-curricular clubs, activities, and work experiences. Find your flow while doing something that you love, and stick to the folks who support you in doing so.

Read, read, read. Explore subjects that engage you, whether that be through non-fiction books, novels, magazines, newspapers, or even YouTube videos. Become an expert on something that fascinates you. That’s what high school is for!

Seek out positive mentors. Build relationships with the folks that you look up to in your community. These could be teachers, coaches, bosses, friends of parents…whoever!

Not only will you better yourself through these relationships, but building these relationships will also pay off come application time!

Find your peace. Scheduling downtime means no phones, no computers, no TV, no screens. At this stage in your development it is key to have some uninterrupted time to visualize who you would like to be in life. That is the first step toward finding the right university for you!

Define strategies for stress management. Put these systems in place now so that, even as your workload increases in the future, your mind will feel calm and ready to face the challenges ahead.

Much like a gardener, tend to your interests and your strengths. Nurture them to attain the skills you’ve always been meant to know. 

Take on challenges with prudence. Work as hard as you can but, remember, balance is crucial. 

Speak up in class. Raise your hand and contribute to class discussions to develop your critical thinking skills. Adaptation and creativity are practical proficiencies that will help you throughout your life. Start expanding them now! 

Remember to rest. Fifteen-year-olds need eight to ten hours of sleep to function at their highest level. Make achieving this range your nightly goal. 

Look forward. Take a gander at the course catalog to see if there are any junior or senior level classes you would like to take. Do they have prerequisites? Take them now. Plan for your most successful academic years yet.

Find mentors beyond school. Find and nurture connections with professionals in fields you could see yourself pursuing. These could be friends of your parents or just folks you interact with in daily life. A twenty-minute conversation could very well turn into an internship or work opportunity, so make sure to stay on your toes! 

Take a stab at creating a rough activities list. Starting to keep track of all of the things you do at this stage will make writing your resume a lot easier. You’ll need a resume to apply to college, so do the preliminary work now to make the future easier. 

Take advantage of your summer break. Do something meaningful to you, and try to make it related to your life’s journey. If it’s a sport, balance it with a three-week research program. If it’s an internship, make sure that you’re still doing something for fun. As always, balance is key in the development of a holistic applicant. 

Think about those standardized tests. Making a plan at this stage based on your PSAT scores and other data points will help you feel most prepared come test time.

This year makes up a big part of what colleges consider for admissions. Prepare as best you can. Perform as best you can. Breathe. At the end of the day, you’ll do great! 

Plan and schedule. Take a mock SAT and ACT and decide between them  based on the results. Schedule your test dates. Study. Check the College Board website for prep materials in AP exams if you so choose.  

Immerse yourself in activities. Redouble your efforts in your extracurricular activities. Seek out things you love. Seek out leadership roles in those activities. Demonstrate your devotion to the elements of your life where you find yourself encountering your natural flow. 

Compile your initial college list. After your test scores come out, take a look at the schools within your safety-to-target-to-reach spectrum and create a list with your college advisor. Get excited about your journey! You’re finding your new home. 

Do some visits. If possible, check out some viable college options during your spring and summer breaks.  

Don’t forget to make use of online resources. College fairs, information sessions, virtual tours— we’ve got it all in this day and age. Even if you can’t fit a visit into your schedule, do your research from afar while demonstrating your interest in the universities that catch your fancy.

Ask for recommendations. Right after your spring break, ask two of your junior year teachers to write a college recommendation letter for you. Choose teachers you think can provide a nuanced perspective of you as a student and a person. The teachers who can provide specific details about you are always best. These are required for your applications, so make sure to choose your recommenders wisely and ask early! 

Bust out the old pen and paper to do some writing. Start reflecting on your life and thinking about what you might want to write your 500-650 word personal statement on. Draft a piece and show it to some of your closest advisors, be it family, friends, or an English teacher. Take constructive feedback and apply it to get closer to your meaning. 

The key here is to get those college applications done and maintain your beautiful grades! 

Complete your testing journey. If you need to, retake the ACT and/or SAT. Set a goal, and don’t stop until you achieve it to give yourself the best chance of finding the home that is right for you! 

Keep important deadlines in mind. Early action, early decision, rolling, standard, etc. Know the different application due dates for each of your colleges and the implications of submitting for the different deadlines. For instance, did you know that applying early decision to a reach school could give you a higher chance of admission? However, don’t choose this option unless you are very sure that that’s where you want to go, for if you are accepted, you are locked in to attending! 

It’s application time. Log into the Common Application, the Coalition Application, or whatever system you choose to apply through and complete your applications. Write those essays in earnest. Gather all of the materials necessary. Consult with your counselor. It’s time to send them! 

Following up is key. Log into each college’s portal to confirm that schools have received the necessary documents from your high school. If there is any confusion, call the school’s admissions office to clarify. 

Seek aid. Each college will have varying financial aid requirements and due dates. If you qualify for aid, make sure to stay on top of this process and advocate for yourself! 

Choose your home. Visit and revisit the schools where you have been accepted. Visualize yourself on campus. Choose the school that fulfills most if not all of your needs and feels most like home. You’ll know in your gut what is right. 

Congratulations! You’ve found your place.


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