High School and Beyond

High School is not like the previous years. It has more importance because it will determine scholarships and college acceptances. Every grade, activity, sport, award, service that a child will do will be looked at by a college admissions officer. You should help your child stay active through the high school years. Make sure that the program your child will be enrolling in is an accredited program that is recognized by colleges and universities. If it’s not an accredited program, make sure you create a portfolio with sample work and it would be beneficial for the child to take SAT subject tests to show proficiency in the subjects. These would be especially for the core subjects.

There are many routes that one can take through the high school years. Students can take regular paced, honors, Advanced Placement (AP), dual credit, and/or dual diploma. You and your child should decide as a team which route may work best in your situation. Keep in mind that a child will need to be a minimum of 16 years of age to enroll in most dual credit programs. Colleges will look to see that there is a variety of subjects taken. Try not to take all your electives in the same category. Show that you have challenged yourself, even if that means that you have a B in an honors sections versus a regular section.

Plan to take a PSAT during Sophmore year.

Contacting your local high school to arrange for your child to take the test. Your child can take the SAT or ACT as many times as s/he would like. They only have to report the test they want the college to take account. Many, if not all colleges superscore the SAT but very few will superscore the ACT. Superscore is when they take the highest scored sections from all the tests you have taken. Check College Board for SAT and ACT  test dates and locations. SAT and ACT are different tests, ACT is four sections and SAT is three. They both have an optional essay but most colleges don’t require it.

Colleges don’t have any preference but your child may, depending on their test-taking ability. SAT and ACT are offered many times over the year so you can plan accordingly. SAT subject tests are not offered as frequently so make sure you check dates and register on time if this is something you are interested in.

Extracurricular activities are a way to set yourself apart from other candidates in a college admission process.

All students will be applying with good/exceptional grades, SAT or ACT scores that meet the college minimum, but what will set your child apart? This is where extracurricular activities come in! Volunteer, scouts, school programs, recreational programs, internship, art/sports classes, etc. Help your child become a better, more well-rounded person by exposing them to the various programs that are available in your area.

In the summer and fall of junior year, it is a good time to start college tours.

On the college websites, you will find dates and times that can be arranged for college tours. Tours help you and your child understand the admission process, what that particular college is looking for, college life, activities, etc. Attending a particular college tour does not obligate you to apply to the college or university.

College applications are done in senior year.

If you are interested in early action or early decision those applications will be due by late October to early November depending on the college. Early decision is stating that if that college accepts you, you will withdraw all other applications and you have agreed to attend. Make sure that you are a 100% sure you want to attend that college and are financially prepared to attend that college before checking that early decision box on college applications. Early action is when you will be notified by January but aren’t committed financially to attend that college/university.

Then there is Regular decision in which applications are due by early January. This is the regular pool of applications in which you are notified of their decision early April. Common core applications will allow you to fill one main application that can be sent to all the colleges you are applying to. Some colleges may have additional essay questions in addition to the common core essay. Make sure you have a few people read and give comments on your essay. The essay is their window into seeing who you are.

Fill out the FAFSA -Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

This can be done after filing for tax returns. The sooner you fill it, the better, because they will give out money as they get applications and in Georgia, it qualifies for the HOPE and Zel Miller scholarships. This can also help students get work-study on campus. Work study is where they work on campus and get money, that can be applied towards tuition. Scholarships and grants are given by colleges and through SAT, PSAT, and ACT. College applications will also enter you into the college scholarships and grants.

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