The admissions process for the top schools in the US has never been so competitive. Acceptance rates for the most selective colleges and universities are steadily declining, so your child must stand out from the thousands of other applicants to increase their chances of admission. The key is for your child to craft an outstanding admissions profile with a compelling theme and a unique narrative that clearly shows how they will add value to their potential schools.
Most parents realize that their child will need strong academics and extracurricular participation. Still, many of them wonder when their child should start preparing for the college admissions process.
Is it ever too early to start? This article provides guidelines on how to help your child get ready for college from their early years until the summer before college.
Before High School
As your child grows up, help them develop intellectual curiosity and a love of reading. If your child develops a love of reading early on, they will likely perform well on the SAT Reading section. Additionally, encourage your child to explore different activities and discover what they enjoy—this will help them decide on a unique application theme later on.
Once your child enters middle school or junior high, closely evaluate their academic performance. Help them take on a rigorous course load, which will prepare them for the demands of high school. The more honors courses your child takes, the better.
The courses your child takes during freshman year will largely determine their academic path for the rest of high school. Schedule a meeting with your child’s counselor to map out the courses your child should take during the next four years. Generally, your child should choose the most rigorous classes offered.
A realistic, practical study schedule will be an asset to your child’s academic performance. If your child hasn’t developed solid study habits yet, freshman year is the time to do so. Your child should also engage in extracurricular activities that appeal to them.
Many high schools allow their students to take AP or other advanced courses during their sophomore year, so your child should strive to take on as many demanding classes as possible. Your child will also have the chance to take the PSAT, SAT, and ACT exams. Aside from their coursework, your child should continue to participate in extracurricular activities that align with their career goals. The summer of sophomore year is an ideal time for your child to study abroad, find a job, or cultivate their interests some other way.
Your child’s academic performance during their junior year will be a critical part of their admissions profile, so they should strive to excel in every class they take. Make sure that their course load includes plenty of AP, IB, or other honors courses. After completing research papers or other academic projects, your child should save them for potential use in their college applications. If they have not done so already, your child should take the PSAT during their junior year.
As graduation approaches, your child should make sure to take AP or other advanced classes in English, a foreign language, history, math, and science if they have not done so in previous years. This will be your child’s last chance to improve their standardized test scores and achieve a significant extracurricular goal, so they shouldn’t take it easy during their senior year.
Your child’s high school counselor can provide valuable advice on your child’s application and can point out any mistakes. By the start of December, your child should be almost done with their applications, and they should be submitted before January 1.
Summer Before College
At this point, your child will likely know what college they will attend. The last few months before the academic year begins are a valuable opportunity to make any necessary arrangements regarding your child’s bank account, transportation, and other practical matters. Finally, your child should also spend time with family and friends.
Evidently, preparing your child for college admissions is a long process that requires much effort and planning. If you follow these guidelines, you can be confident that your child will gain admission to the college of their choice and fulfill their academic dreams. Book an initial consultation today to learn more about how we help our clients craft exceptional admissions profiles.