Your application process can get rolling wryly… even before your junior year! As sophomores or juniors, college is rarely on the brain. It’s all about staying ahead of immediate coursework or participating in extra-curricular activities, but it is never too early to start grooming yourself for the upcoming application process – and that time flies faster than you think!
1. Take the ACT – and again, and again, and again. Do not wait until spring of junior year to take the ACT for the first time. Your chances of improving your score (and thereby opening opportunities for greater admittance and scholarships) is exponentially increased with each exposure you have to the text and its format. Don’t worry about reporting scores – just take it every time they offer it.
2. Start volunteering. Colleges want to see that applicants have an awareness of their communities outside the academic environment, and they also want to see that applicants are able to get out of their own lives to learn about others. Not only does this look great on the resume, but it also will help you grow into a thoughtful and gracious human being.
3. Foster strong relationships with teachers. I’ve always told my students on the first day that their behavior and performance from each day on was writing their own college recommendation. If you were late to every class, turned in shoddy work, and never participated, guess what experience they have to go on when it comes time for recommendations? Teachers take their recs very seriously, and colleges heavily consider them during the application process. Don’t be a suck up, but strive to be an engaged participant in your education. It will pay off in more ways than one.
Too many students scramble to play catch-up in each of these areas once applications go live in August, and it’s obvious what the motives are if started too late. Remember that each day of your high school career is shaping you as an applicant!