We are often asked if students should start researching higher education in 9th or 10th grade. And some parents complain that their students resist thinking about college until senior year.
What do we suggest?
Finding the right college is a personal journey, and the right time to begin is personal, too. Some students are mature and ready to explore in 10th grade, but not most. Younger students think about careers in very general terms, don’t have a clear sense of their best skills and see college as very far away. They can benefit from attending some large college fairs, and they can be strongly encouraged to take challenging courses in high school so that they are prepared for college admission requirements. If they take the PSAT, their score results will reveal strengths and weaknesses that can guide course choices and enhance study skills.
We recommend that parents encourage their children to begin a more serious investigation of colleges and universities in 11th grade. The process can be more relaxed if you give yourself enough time to learn as much as you can and explore all the possibilities. By the spring of junior year, the prospect of college seems much more real. Students should consider taking their first SAT or ACT in spring or early summer, then again in the fall of senior year. The summer after 11th grade is a great time to do some campus visits, too.
We believe that we can help students make the best choices if we start working with them during the junior year. We can explore each student’s academic record and suggest the right path for success. If additional testing is needed, there will be enough time for assessment. If the student’s college choices are distant from home, there is plenty of time to visit campuses. If the student wants to pursue an internship to explore a career, there is time to plan. Most of all, the process is unhurried and intentional.
What if you wait till senior year? Obviously, we can do more to help if you contact us early in the academic year. We will do everything we can to help the student get started and move ahead quickly to make sure she or he has the best chance for acceptance into a great college or university. Our goal is the right choice and a strong application with less stress – no matter when you start.
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