What Should We Do about College, and When?

Grade 9

  • Students and parents should talk with their advisor about future plans (the next four years of high school, college, career). The courses that a student might want to take in his or her junior and senior years may require prerequisite classes that should be taken as a freshman or sophomore. However, parents should be careful not to micromanage their children in an attempt to create the “perfect” college applicant. Each student should be allowed to grow at his or her own pace, and some courses or activities may be inappropriate for an individual student.

  • Students and their families should explore opportunities to get involved in non-academic programs such as clubs, sports, community service and part-time employment. Try out for a sport, and attend Club Day convocation and Club Day sign-up. A part-time job can also provide an opportunity to save some money to apply towards college expenses. Parents should not approach their children’s extracurricular activities solely as stepping stones to college, but as opportunities for students to develop important personal characteristics, such as teamwork, leadership, responsibility, and a strong work ethic.
  • Members of the College Counseling Staff will meet with students during Life Management Skills class. Students will discuss the elements of a Bolles transcript and begin working on a résumé.
  • Parents should plan to attend the College Counseling 101 program, typically held in March.
  • As summer approaches, students and parents should remember that any jobs, camps, or special programs can be included on the résumé.
Grade 10
  • In mid-October (typically on the morning of the PSAT), students will meet with the College Counseling Staff in group settings to discuss information about the colleges search process and to review “scattergram” data on college admissions.
  • Students will take the PSAT as practice for the SAT. Since the tests are geared for juniors, they should be regarded as only a dry run.
  • Parents should plan to attend the College Counseling 201 program, typically held in February.
  • Students and parents should review course selection to be sure that the appropriate prerequisite classes are being taken for the curriculum you might want to take as a junior or senior.
  • In a few instances, a student might take a May or June SAT Subject Test if appropriate. Check with your teachers and advisor.
  • Over the summer, a family may want to include a few college visits in their vacation plans.
  • Students should update their résumés to reflect recent awards, activities, and extracurricular involvements.
Grade 11
  • A strong junior year can be an asset in a college application, so students should study hard. When colleges begin reviewing a high school transcript, junior year will be the last year-long set of grades they see.
  • During the fall, students may wish to meet with a few visiting college representatives to learn more about the admission process.
  • In October, students will take the PSAT to prepare for the SAT and to be eligible for National Merit Scholarship competition.
  • Parents should plan to attend the College Counseling 301 program, typically held in mid-October.
  • Parents interesting in pursuing need-based financial aid can begin filling out the FAFSA and (and the CSS Profile, if required), using the prior year’s tax data.
  • Early in the second semester, students will attend Junior Day and a number of follow-up programs to begin the formal college counseling process.
  • Students should meet with their newly assigned college counselor. At these meetings the college counselor will begin to get to know the student, help develop a list of prospective colleges, and help plan the student’s senior schedule. As they outline a senior schedule in conjunction with their college counselor, students should think about what they might like to study in college, and keep in mind that a strong senior schedule is very important for college admission.
  • Students should take both the SAT and ACT. As appropriate, they should take the SAT Subject Tests or AP Exams (they should check with teachers and college counselor).
  • Students and their families should plan to visit colleges over Spring Break. This is a good time to visit; a family meeting with the college counselor may be useful as plans are set.
  • English teachers will assign an introspective essay that will help students begin to think in the mode of a college essay.
  • Students should do a thorough job filling out the Junior Questionnaire they were given during Junior Days.
  • Parents should arrange to meet with their son or daughter’s college counselor, preferably before the end of the school year. They should also fill out the Parent Questionnaire mailed to them after Junior Day.
  • Students should contact (via e-mail, or the college’s web-based sign-up form) their prospective colleges and request information. This contact places them on college mailing lists, and they will begin receiving information from the colleges.
  • Students should continue to update their résumés.
  • If at all possible, students and parents should visit colleges on “the list.” Go on campus tours, meet with admission counselors, attend information sessions. Students should keep a journal of the visits, as the colleges will begin to blend together. The journal should include first impressions, significant facts and figures, and any other information deemed important. (The College Counseling Office’s “yellow sheets” can be useful for these notes.)
  • If they have not already done so, parents should arrange an initial meeting with their son or daughter’s college counselor. Depending on parental or counselor preference, the meeting may include both parent(s) and student, or just the parent(s). In all cases, we prefer to meet with the student first.
  • In August, students should consider attending one of the Application Boot Camp sessions before the start of school. Before starting any application essays, students should meet with their college counselors to discuss ideas before investing a great deal of time in writing—very often good essays arise from topics students consider mundane or uninteresting, but that their counselor recognizes as a potentially good topic.
  • Students should update their résumés to use with college applications.
Grade 12
  • A soon as possible after classes begin, students should meet with their college counselor to discuss their progress. At this point students should begin finalizing the list of colleges to which they plan to apply.
  • Students should make a list of each school’s application (admission and scholarship) deadlines.
  • Students may want to visit colleges for the first or second time (many schools have special programs for high school seniors).
  • Students, with input from their college counselor, should identify which teachers they would like to have write their recommendations.
  • Students should meet with visiting college representatives.
  • Students should begin submitting college applications (deadlines will vary). All forms should be given to teachers and counselors at least two weeks prior to the application deadline.
  • Students should submit any scholarship applications (deadlines will vary).
  • Students should re-take the SAT and ACT. They should also take SAT Subject Tests, if required.
  • Students should prepare for college interviews (if required).
  • Students should continue to study hard. Some colleges will ask for first-quarter grades; virtually all colleges will be sent first-semester grades.
  • Students accepted under Early Decision/Early Action programs should withdraw applications from other schools, as appropriate.
  • In December, eligible students should initiate the application process for the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship, even if the student does not currently plan to attend a Florida college or university. (For a variety of reasons, many students return to the state to finish college, and the Bright Futures Scholarship must be applied for as a high school senior.)
  • In January or early February, parents should submit the FAFSA and any institutional financial aid applications.
  • In March and April, students should respond (accept/decline) to offers of admission and scholarships/financial aid.
  • Students might want to make final colleges visits to help in making their decision.
  • Students should maintain their records of solid academic achievement. If colleges see a significant drop in second-semester grades, they will demand an explanation (and it had better be a good one!).
  • Once they settle on a college they should confirm their final choice of college and request that a final transcript be sent.

Copyright The Bolles School 2015

Co-ed Day and Boarding College Preparatory School from Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12

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