By October, you’re well into the start of your senior year. Fall sports, midterms, and college preparation are all starting to kick into high gear. Time for a gut-check: are you doing the right things to get into college?
September was a great time to lay the groundwork for the year, but now it’s time to start acting on those plans.
Here’s what seniors in high school should do in October to get into college.
1) Focus on Grades
Your grades this semester will matter a lot. Even if your GPA isn’t that high to begin with, that’s okay. College admissions committees love a good comeback story, and now’s the time for you to write it.
And if your GPA is already high, don’t let it slip now.
Senior year is often a mix of senior-slack classes (“Underwater Basket Weaving,” anyone?) and some of the most advanced level classes you’ll take. No matter what, you’ll want to do well in those classes.
Be ready, that might mean missing a couple Friday nights with friends to do homework. Don’t worry though, it will be worth it.
2) Re-Take the ACT/SAT
Hopefully you’ve already taken standardized tests at least once by now. Now’s your chance to take them again if you’re not happy with your scores.
It’s very common to see an increase in your scores just from taking the test for a second time. Practice makes perfect, after all! But if you put in a little extra studying, you’ll be sure to get the highest score possible.
And if you haven’t taken the ACT/SAT at all, you should stop reading this blog and go register right now.
If it’s past the registration deadline and you haven’t taken a test, you should talk to your school counselor about your options.
3) Narrow Your College List
Have you decided where you’re going to apply?
You don’t have to have to be certain about every single school, but your list of colleges should be taking shape.
Make sure you plan to apply to colleges in each category: safety, match, and reach.
Now’s a great time to make some campus visits, take tours, and talk to admissions counselors at the schools you’re considering.
4) Prepare Your Early Action Application
Don’t miss your chance to apply Early Action to at least one school.
Your Early Action application doesn’t have to be for your dream school, either (though it’s not a bad idea)! Early Action can be a great way to secure an early acceptance to a school you like. You’re still free to apply to other schools in the spring, but having a guaranteed option will take the stress out of the rest of your year.
Whatever you do, don’t confuse “Early Action” with “Early Decision.” Early Action decisions are typically non-binding, so you can change your mind later if you get in but don’t want to go. Early Decision admissions tend to be binding, meaning you could face financial penalties for backing out of an acceptance.
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5) Apply to Scholarships
It’s never too early to start asking for scholarship money.
Even if you plan to go to an affordable school, every little bit helps. Different scholarships have different deadlines, so you don’t want to miss the early ones.
Don’t wait until you’re already accepted to a college before you realize you need more scholarships to cover the bill. Start applying for scholarships now to make sure you won’t be going to the bank later.
6) Ask For Letters of Recommendation
Talk to your recommenders sooner rather than later. They’ll be flooded with requests soon, and they’ll need time to write you the glowing recommendation you deserve.
Make sure you’re asking people who can speak to the traits you want to emphasize. That could be teachers, coaches, youth group leaders, or any other mentor. Just make sure it’s someone you trust who knows you well.
7) Subscribe To A College Guide
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath! This is a lot to do in one month, and you’ve still got the rest of the year to go. You can do it!
But you don’t have to do it alone. Sign up for a monthly college guide to help you stay on track.
“It’s like putting your college planning on auto-pilot.”
Signing up for an email guide is like putting your college planning on auto-pilot.
Our Senior College Prep Series will send you once-a-month emails with simple, complete instructions for everything you should be doing that month.
All you need to do is sign up, and watch your inbox for the monthly guide!