College Pete

What 11th Graders Should Do This Summer

What 11th Graders Should Do This Summer

It’s almost Memorial Day and that means two things: One – my nostalgic, Jersey-raised wife Jill will officially ‘open’ our pool (as if) and two – it’s time for 11th graders to get serious about applying to college.

If you have a child in high school, you’re probably already receiving a fair share of college-related ‘literature’.  It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the growing piles of paper, not to mention the constant influx of information and misinformation from every source imaginable about the college application process. And if you think it’s a nuisance now, once your student begins 12th grade, it can get a whole lot worse….  application deadlines (and the accompanying panic) come around very quickly once school starts.  This year, for example, FSU has an October 17 priority deadline. UF’s is November 1, which is also the deadline for students applying Early Action or Early Decision. And for most out of state schools, the regular deadline is January 1 (but you should aim to have your applications submitted well before this crunch deadline as last minute snafus with the technology have been known to happen).

The most widely accepted college application, known as The Common Application, officially goes live on August 1st, but you can print a draft and get started earlier.  Which is a very good idea.  Not sure where to begin?  Start with the essay and short answer, for sure.  The rest of the application is relatively easy.  You’ll also want to write a resume outlining your extra-curricular activities, awards and honors, community service and volunteer activities, etc., as this info will need to be entered on the application.  One important Progam Note: The Common Application has reinstated the 500 word limit on the long essay, so make every word count!

If you’re the parent of an 11th grader, here are some other college-related activities you should be considering this summer:

  •     Finalizing Your College List – Though many students reflexively apply to as many as 20 schools, an ideal list is a focused one that includes a balance of reach, target, and safety schools.
  •     Visiting Colleges

While summer is not the optimal time to visit colleges, it is convenient for families.  Not surprisingly, colleges expect many visitors during summer months, so there will be frequent tours and info sessions.  Visiting is the best way to express interest in a college, which does help in securing the Thick Envelope.

  •     Preparing for Fall Standardized Tests

The SAT is scheduled for October 6, while the ACT is September 8 and October 27.  These dates are not too late for admissions for Fall 2013.  Summer is a great time to prepare for the SAT/ACT and the SAT Subject Tests.  Get yourself a tutor or private class (call us for a recommendation), or study up on ePrep a great and affordable tool that we provide for our clients.

  •     Putting your finances in order.

Make sure that you look up the priority filing deadlines for every school on your child’s list.  Awards are first-come, first-served so you want to complete everything ahead of those deadlines.  To that point, Make sure you complete any financial planning or strategic changes now, or well in advance of the end of the year.  This is your look-back year — the government and the colleges will  review your income, assets and circumstances for THIS calendar year to make award determinations for the following Fall.  If you don’t know which assets count for and against you, NOW is the time to get educated.  Once the year ends, you will have fewer options at your disposal.

Finally, I want to wish you an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend and a safe and relaxing summer.  Except for a 2-week college tour in mid-July,  I will be around and available throughout most of it to assist you with your college planning needs.    Feel free to contact our office with any questions about the recommendations above.

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