Admissions

Jan. Feature: What You Should Be Doing This Month for Your Admissions Plan

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With the holidays behind you and a new semester on the horizon, the college admissions process is either in full swing (if you’re a senior) or just getting started (if you’re a junior). Some college deadlines have not passed yet, and many seniors are still finalizing applications and essays for those schools. Fortunately, by the time this month ends, most students will have some of the stress from the admissions process behind them.

January is a good time to tie up any loose ends and finalize your applications, advises Colette King, a college admissions consultant in Durham, N.C. She offers the following tips for each grade level so you can stay on track with your admissions plan.


Freshmen

- If you haven’t yet started a college resume, now is a good time to begin putting one together. It may be simple to remember all of your extracurriculars and awards now, but when you’re applying to college it can be easy to forget exactly what you did during ninth grade.

- When planning out your sophomore year classes, take into account the college prep plan that you’re trying to pursue, and make sure your chosen classes meet those goals.

Sophomores

- You’ll soon be registering for your eleventh grade classes. Make sure you’re planning to take courses that show a progression of skills from your prior years of high school. If you’re missing any classes that will be required for graduation (in some school districts this could include a foreign language or a lab science), make sure to include them in your junior-year planning.

- Stay on top of your extracurriculars and consider working toward leadership roles in the ones that interest you the most.

Juniors

- Now that you’ve had a chance to scrutinize your PSAT scores, it’s a good time to map out a test prep plan to work on the areas where you didn’t perform as well as you’d hoped.

- If you’re planning to take spring or summer ACT or SAT tests, register early, because some of the test dates fill up quickly.

- Begin to think about your summer activities. If you’re hoping to get a summer job or volunteer position, now is the time to start looking.

- If you have a clear idea of what your GPA is shaping up to look like, work on your college list and start adding schools that you think would fit your interests and stats.

- If you’re thinking of touring any colleges over spring break, it’s a good time to schedule those tours, since they’re often full around that time.

Seniors

- Continue filling out applications if you aren't finished yet and ensure that you don’t miss any important deadlines.

- Once you apply, check your application portals frequently so you can make sure schools aren’t missing any vital documents.

- If you haven’t filled out the FAFSA or the CSS profile (when applicable), now is the time to gather the information you need and get those done.

- If private scholarships are on your radar screen, begin searching for them and filling out the appropriate application materials.

- Focus on your classes to ensure that your grades don’t suddenly dip now that the college application process is winding down.

- If you’ve been accepted at a college that you plan to attend, you may want to sign up for housing before the dorms get full if your school allows you to do that before paying your deposit. Some schools even offer a non-binding housing registration program, so you can register for free to get in line for your preferred dorm, and you’ll be able to pull that reservation later if you change your mind.