As the holidays approach and the seniors are over their huge peak of college applications, I imagine you juniors and your parents are chomping at the bit, as it were, to get started on your OWN college application process. Just a few thoughts before we start planning in earnest.
First, and most important, remember that every good decision-making process starts with self-awareness. A good plan does not start with finding out what College X wants and then trying to do whatever it takes to “get in.”
It starts with learning about yourself. There are over 4000 colleges out there, and there will be several where you can be happy and successful, so let’s start with you.
In anticipation of our planning process, juniors should take some time to really look at themselves—what they love about school (what they don’t love so much); what they love to do in their free time (what they would do if they had any free time); what they are naturally good at (how they have learned to conquer what challenges them). This Thanksgiving holiday is a perfect time to begin this reflection. Not only do we have some extra time to relax, it is a holiday which by its very nature encourages us to step back and appreciate what we have and whom we care for. And before you know it, it will be a school vacation of a very different nature!
So when you are surrounded with relatives, some of whom will begin to offer college advice, remember, you are the one going to college, so the process needs to start and end with you. I’ll be there to guide you, but you already have most of the tools you need—most importantly, you know yourself better than anyone else does.
To begin to prepare for our Junior Conferences, you can do the following:
List the activities—in and out of school—that you have participated in while in high school. You also want to list the hours per week and the weeks per year of your participation. This includes clubs, sports, arts and music, community service and work. You will want to keep a running list in preparation for making a more formal resume.
Soon we will receive your PSAT scores and will begin scheduling individual appointments. . We can go over what the scores mean to you when we meet as well as getting to know each other. This will be tremendously helpful as we begin defining your college lists, as well as a head start on your recommendation letters!
After we have our individual conference, students and parents will complete a questionnaire, and once that is turned in, we can begin scheduling family conferences.
If you are travelling over the Thanksgiving holiday, consider looking at a college or two in the area if you have time. Each campus you see will give you an overall sense of what you want your college environment to be—or not to be—like! If you like, you can let me know where you are travelling and I’ll be happy to give you some suggestions as to colleges you might look at.
In the meantime, enjoy this special holiday time, and have a happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful for Roeper—how about you?
Patricia Bostwick, MA, LPC
Director of College Counseling