12th Grade Planning Guide
Finally, senior year is here! You have worked so hard the past three years trying to be proactive about your college application process and now you are so close to the finish line. Do not let “senioritis” get to you. Colleges are still looking at your GPA and maintaining it as high as you can during this year is important even if you have already been accepted to a college.
Tests! At this point, you should have already taken the ACT and SAT during your junior year. You can retake the tests if you feel unhappy with your past score or if colleges are asking for a higher score. Analyze your past scores and growth areas. Make sure that you are well-rested and prepared to take them. Do not forget to pay attention to dates and registration deadlines.
Talk to your school counselor! Make sure you keep meeting with them even after applying or getting accepted to colleges. That way, they will help you stay organized and on track to graduate. Also, ask them all the questions you have regarding resumes, financial aid, scholarships, admissions essays, recommendations, etc.
Apply for FAFSA! The first step to apply for financial aid is to fill out the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This program is the largest provider of financial aid in the U.S. Regardless of your household income, make sure you complete this free application because colleges determine the amount given to students based on the information you provide. Make sure you also start applying for scholarships!
Continue with your extracurricular activities! Involvement in diverse activities will help you build your resume and college representatives will notice your productivity, engagement, work ethic, time management, etc.
Visit college campuses! At this point, you should know what type of colleges you want to attend. Even if you have already been accepted to a college, do not forget to visit prior to making a decision. Visiting colleges will help you envision your life on the campus and this might play a deciding factor between your options. Take full advantage of your time while visiting colleges, making sure you ask to sit in on a class, talk to professors, students, coaches, admissions officers, etc. Some colleges offer the opportunity to stay overnight with a student ambassador and shadow them throughout their day. These visits will show you if you picture yourself attending the college so schedule some tours!
Interviews! As part of their application process, some colleges might require an interview. Colleges do this so they can meet you in person and assess if you are a good fit for their school. Make sure you are prepared for the questions they might ask you. Be confident, be yourself and try to highlight your strengths. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions and engage in the conversation. Ask your school counselor for help regarding preparation for these interviews.
Review your resume and ask for letters of recommendation! At this time your resume should be almost ready to send to colleges. Make sure you highlight your academic, extracurricular, and social experiences. Also, now is the time to ask your teachers for letters of recommendation. Remember choosing teachers who know your strengths!
Make a college list! To stay organized during this hectic year make sure you create a document listing all the colleges you are applying to. Write down all the application requirements and deadlines so you can check what you need for each application. Expect schools to have different requirements, for example, some might ask you for an interview and some might not. Ask your school counselor for help creating this list. Once all your applications are submitted, step back and take a deep breath because that means most of the hard work is done, now all you have to do is wait for responses. Remember to remain calm and hopeful!
Now it’s time to make decisions! After you get responses from the colleges, the next step is choosing which one to attend. Make sure you weigh your options and choose the college that is the best fit for you. The college acceptance letter will come with instructions about the next steps. Read them carefully, since colleges will have you make a deposit in order to secure a spot in the incoming freshman class and residence hall. Do not forget to let other colleges you got accepted to know if you are choosing not to attend.
Celebrate! Finally, you are finished with the college application process and now it’s time to celebrate all your accomplishments. You have worked so hard and we are so excited as you begin the next chapter of your life. Make sure you congratulate yourself and thank those who help you along the way. We are all so proud of you! Go Cardinals!