September Checklist for Seniors

Counselor’s Calendar | September Checklist for Seniors


This week, The Choice is publishing our monthly Counselor’s Calendar, to keep students on track during the college admissions process.

This installment focuses on seniors. (Juniors, your September checklist will be published on Wednesday.) We’ve asked Webster T. Trenchard, the director of college guidance at The Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Conn., for admissions advice for the class of 2013. — Tanya Abrams

September brings the beginning of the school year in earnest, and for seniors, this month will surely be full of excitement, nostalgia, optimism and at least a little bit of anxiety. But with some advance planning and a proactive approach, seniors can set themselves up for success and not allow anxiety to overtake the entire year.

Seniors, here is your college admissions checklist:

Use ‘Your Inner Goldilocks’ to Plan Your Class Schedule

While it is true that your junior year is the most important when it comes to the college application process, the senior fall is the single most important term. Most selective colleges want to see seniors engaged in a challenging slate of classes across disciplines. Students whose transcripts say “I’ve worked hard enough already and have earned a break” risk looking entitled and anti-intellectual during the application review process.

That being said, it would be imprudent to take on AP Physics when math and science have never been your strong suits. Yes, colleges care about your senior year curriculum, but they also care about your performance. A dropoff in either the rigor of the classes or the grades earned in them can hurt your prospects.

Channel your inner Goldilocks and find the academic schedule that is just right.

Scrutinize Your Academic Progress

Of course, striking this balance is not always easy. Perhaps you have some trepidation about whether one of your classes is too hard for you. Be sure to be in early and frequent communication with your teacher, guidance or college counselor, and your parents. These people can help you to make a thoughtful, informed decision about whether a particular course is a good fit. In the meantime, consider these questions:

    – Are you learning in the class?

   – Is the course likely to get harder or get easier?

   – Is the time and effort you are putting into the course detracting from your ability to excel in your other classes?

The answers to these questions should help you to make a reasoned decision.

Additionally, be aware of your school’s policy regarding dropping a course or changing the level of a class; it would be unfortunate to realize that a class is too hard after you have the ability to do anything about it.

Make an Academic Action Plan

With so much going on in the fall of senior year, be sure to develop a plan of action for the next several months. Map out the dates that are important to you, like SAT or ACT test dates and college application deadlines.

Don’t stop there. If you have a big audition, performance or game, be sure to put those dates on your calendar. The earlier you know about an intense week full of commitments, the better you can plan for it.

Also check to see if there are any weekdays when your school is not in session, for things like a teacher in-service day or Election Day. These can be great opportunities to get caught up or to (re)visit a college of interest. Scheduling ahead should allow you to complete applications thoroughly while still leaving some time to pursue the academic, social and extracurricular demands of your senior year.

Lop Off the Low-Hanging Fruit

It is not very difficult to establish a Common Application account, to ask for teacher recommendations, or to sign up for the SAT or ACT. If you haven’t already done so, take care of these things right away.

Keep Your Parents Informed

Your parents are vested partners in your educational aspirations and want to stay in the loop. Set aside one day a week to talk to your parents about your college process and progress, and stick to that commitment. You don’t want every conversation with your parents to be about college, yet it is reasonable that they would want to check in and see how you are doing.

Senior year should be a meaningful, culminating experience that holds many fond memories for years to come. With good forethought and planning in September, the college selection process can become not only a manageable part of that experience but also a time of self-discovery that prepares you for the exciting opportunity that the college years can and should represent.


Similar Posts