At Mom's College Cram Course we constantly seek fresh, quality content. Today the blog moves closer to achieving that goal.
We will now, in addition to regular posts, provide informed insights, expert opinions and reports from parent survivors of the college admissions process. The panel is still being built, but we already have a strong core that includes parents with children already in college, or with high school juniors and seniors, an admissions officer from a major private university, a high school teacher, a guidance counselor and a tutor. We'll likely revamp the blog somewhat over the next several months and also alert readers to panel additions.
Let's get started with the first question presented to the panel.
What are the most important things for sophomores to consider/do as they gear up for the college admissions process?
1. Academics. Do well in academic courses and choose the most challenging levels (Honors, AP, etc.) that you can handle when selecting junior year courses. Consider class rank -- a higher rank may be more beneficial than a challenging course that may result in a lower rank. Talk to the counselor about that. Stay focused on grades and keep the GPA high.
2. Test and Prep. Take the PSAT and ACT Plan. Start thinking about what kind of test prep would be most beneficial to the student's learning style when the time comes for prep: group classes, online tutorials or private tutoring.
3. Build the Resume. Find a club/volunteer activity/cause that really matters to the teen, so that it is easy to become immersed. Quantity is not as important as level of involvement; think about a leadership role down the road. Consider balancing a time-consuming activity with one or two requiring less time. Keep a diary of all activities -- or at least a list. It will be useful when writing essays.
4. Visit Colleges. Yes. Now. See as many as you possibly can, on school holidays or vacations. It's a low pressure time and a great way for students to get engaged in the process. By junior year, there is less time for travel because of the intensity of the course load and the stakes are feeling higher. Make it relaxing, but do take notes, photos, videos -- because the schools may start to run together after a while.
5. Develop a Personal Relationship with the Counselor.
There are lots of students, and the counselor will be writing a recommendation letter. The student should stop by, say hi, stay in touch -- starting as soon as possible.
Any additions or disagreements? Please comment. We're all in this together.
Meanwhile, many thanks to parent panelists Kim Cook, Jeanne Hogle, Barbara Rosamilia and Tina Squyres; teacher Lauren Fazzio; and a college admissions officer for their thoughtful input.