Timely Tips

Seniors

Here are a few last bits of advice to help you ease the transition to college. First, make sure that you have ordered and paid for two final transcripts - one to be sent to you at home and one to be sent to the college you will attend in the fall. If you are an athlete, make sure you send one to the NCAA and if you are still on the waiting list for the school of your dreams, send them a final transcript as well. However, hopefully you are happy with and have embraced your final decision; you have made your housing deposit; you have contacted the financial aid office with any questions and you have signed up to attend orientation. If you have taken AP tests and you expect to receive college credit, be sure to send your official scores directly from College Board to your college. 

Prepare for your transition on the personal front as well. One article read recently advised students to "practice being an adult" this summer. So while your parents are still around to answer questions and give needed guidance, you can begin managing more aspects of your life. Make a doctor's appointment this summer (make sure you are up to date on all of your immunizations and get a refill for any needed prescriptions). If you haven't yet done so, open a checking account and learn how it works. Make a budget and talk to your parents about expectations around discretionary spending. Learn how to do laundry. De-clutter your bedroom (but don't be too drastic - especially if you have school materials for some advanced courses that you might pursue in college). Continue doing your college research so that you are familiar with campus resources, intermural sports, clubs, Greek life, religious or political organizations - all the exciting things that your school offers. But don't think that everything will be rosy all of the time, and if you find yourself homesick or occasionally overwhelmed, know that is normal!

But for today, hug your family, friends and teachers - and revel in your accomplishments. Congratulations and best wishes to the Class of 2018 as you move on to the next phase of your lives!

 

Juniors

Congratulations on wrapping up your junior year! We know we keep harping on using this summer wisely, but it should begin your voyage of discovery about college! Please devote time this summer to doing college research, visiting schools and starting essays. And as you are doing your research on various schools, we want to encourage you to keep in mind the financial component. College is an extremely expensive proposition and you need to have an honest discussion with your family about what is affordable. By the same token, don't eliminate a school from consideration because of their high sticker price - because if you choose the right schools, you will hopefully not end up paying full price. While you research schools (and one informational website we recommend is College Data - www.collegedata.com) check to see where you fall in their accepted freshman class for 2022. If you are in their top 25% in terms of grades and test scores, you have a good chance of not only being accepted but getting an offer of merit aid (scholarships - not loans - that students receive for being academically accomplished). Schools want strong students to improve their standings in the crazy world of college rankings. You may find that if your profile puts you at the top end of the range for their enrolled students, they can be both interested and generous. From large out of state public schools to small private schools - many will be interested in California students - and you don't need to have a 4.0! And make sure you check out the Western Undergraduate Exchange (www.wiche.edu/wue) where students from member states are eligible to receive reduced tuition at participating schools for certain majors. Member states include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and the U.S. Pacific territories. The WUE reduced tuition award is not automatic and is limited to specific majors and colleges but there are many possibilities available. With all of these options, your advanced research can reap large financial rewards - so we're circling back around and recommending that you use this summer wisely.

 

Sophomores and Freshmen

It is never a bad idea to think about college early in the junior year and one component is college entrance tests. Use some of your summer to prepare for the PSAT which you will take in October and then piggyback on that preparation and practice and take the SAT in November or December. The other standardized college entrance exam is the ACT (www.actstudent.org) and while our school district pushes the PSAT, you might also want to explore the ACT since all colleges accept both tests, and there are some differences between the two. Both tests have an optional essay, but most colleges require it, so please include the writing portion for both tests. The ACT moves much more quickly than the SAT. If you are a slow reader, you might be intimidated by the pace of the ACT. While the ACT has a Science section and the SAT does not, the ACT's Science section is actually more about reading charts and graphs and reasoning through questions than about actual scientific knowledge. Students who do well on critical reading often do well on the ACT Science section. Then there are SAT Subject Tests which are one-hour, subject based exams totally separate from the SAT or ACT (although they are administered by the College Board who administers the SAT). When you put together your testing schedule for junior year, remember that many colleges (and some majors at schools which don't otherwise require the tests) require SAT Subject Tests. Many selective colleges (and often majors such as Engineering) require two SAT Subject Tests and they are usually taken in the spring of the year when you complete the highest level in a particular discipline (after an AP or Honors course) - so often in the junior year. It is a good idea to map out all of the testing coming up in your junior year so that you are as prepared as possible. Go to College Board for information and registration for the PSAT, SAT and SAT Subject Tests (www.collegeboard.org) and to the ACT website (www.act.org) for information and registration for the ACT. You will also find test prep information for each test on their respective websites. If you have test anxiety and all of this testing talk makes your palms sweat, please know that there are MANY colleges where standardized tests aren't required for admission! For a list of over 1,000 schools go to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing www.fairtest.org - and then breathe a sigh of relief.  

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