You are at, or about to begin the winter break that coincides with Christmas and Hanukkah. For most of you there are (+/-) fourteen days in which to do as you please. It might please you, if you're a tenth-grader intending to go to college, to write out your plan for college selection, and to set that plan in motion.
In my book, College is a Consumer Purchase (available here), are listed the most common mistakes people make regarding college admissions and financial aid. Among those mistakes is they wait too long to start.
This article is intended specifically for students in the middle of their tenth grade year. A common perception is there is plenty of time before you have to start thinking about college.
Reality check! Twenty to twenty-four short months from now you will be receiving letters of acceptance (or not ugh!).
Two years when you say it that way it sounds like a long time. Twenty-four months? Not so much. Think about everything else you are packing into those two dozen, thirty-day windows of opportunity. There are (at least) eighteen months of school, with homework. There are family vacations, sports games or dance, and similar activities. There are parties to attend, friends to hang-out with you get the picture, right?
Here is a suggested outline of what your plan might look like:
December, 2020 complete a professional career assessment. We use the Birkman Profile, administered by LEAProgram, Cincinnati, OH (www.leaprogram.com). It is worth every dollar.
January & February 2021 study and assimilate your Birkman report. Begin exploring the career suggestions, hyperlinked in the document.
March & April, 2021 continue to explore career options, and also identify college majors that would logically prepare you for those career tracks. For example, what major would you choose to prepare you to become an optometrist?
May & June, 2021 begin identifying colleges that are strong in majors you are considering. Universities, in particular, offer a broad array of majors. They do not support those departments equally, however. For example, a university that graduates 500 business majors is going to direct more resources that way, than to its social sciences department that graduates 20 per year.
July & August, 2021 Delve more deeply into colleges that look attractive. Contact them. Learn what are their key considerations for admissions.
September & October, 2021 Which entrance test will you take SAT or ACT? Do the colleges on your list have a preference? Ask. What is the score on either of those tests that will put you in the top 25% of applicants.
November & December, 2021 You are a year into now, and you are beginning to get a clear picture of why you are going to college (that is, what you will do with that education and diploma). You should also have a family conversation about what you can afford by what of annual, out-of-pocket costs.
January & February, 2022 Enroll in an SAT/ACT preparation class. That will consume most of the extra time you have for six to eight weeks.
- How Much is a College Education Going to Cost You, Really?
- Navigating the Pathways of College Admissions and Financial Aid in 2021
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- 8 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Completing FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
- Gear Up, Tenth Graders
- Apply for Fall, Get Spring Semester. Why do colleges send "Spring Semester Acceptance" letters?
- Why do colleges "Wait List" some students and what to do if you're on the wait list
- Is There a Scholarship Awarded With Your Letter of Acceptance?
- Is Test Optional Permanent?
- Is Community College a good option after high school?
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