We have suggested in an earlier blog that getting an early start on the college process is essential for good results to be reasonably assured. A ninth grade start is even better than a tenth grade start; a tenth better than an eleventh; and an eleventh still better than getting started in the twelfth. At every level, though, there are important things that can and should be done to optimize any student’s college readiness. Something good is always better than nothing at all.
When we begin to work with students currently enrolled in grade eleven, we look first at curriculum, then grades earned this year to date, outside reading, co-curricular strengths/sports, etc. Since eleventh grade results are the most significant individual credential to be added to any college application, we urge each eleventh grade client to
- show interest in all classes by asking questions in class;
- seek extra help when necessary;
- become active (or more active) in co-curriculars and community activities;
- plan carefully for senior year classes (by including more APs, honors courses, etc.)
Another essential for the eleventh grade client is to have a meaningful summer planned prior to entering the senior year. Whenever possible, it is desirable to find a summer activity or internship that has some connection to the student’s long term, post-college interests. Even when no clear path has been identified, a learning summer is infinitely more productive than simply working at the grocery store or renting towels at the beach – unless, of course, the participant actually intends to pursue a career in retail!
All eleventh grade students must also have taken the PSATs, after which we encourage both an SAT and an ACT after the Christmas break. We will advise from those results which to take again later in the junior year and, perhaps, also in the senior year. College visits over spring break of the junior year, as well as during the summer months, are very important, too, especially for adding clarity to the college search.
Eleventh graders working with IESolutions also begin to investigate specific college options on our website, through the student portal that permit browsing university sites, evaluating probabilities for admission, doing a self-assessment, planning majors, exploring financial aid possibilities, etc. Given the shorter amount of time available to the eleventh grader before decision day, lots of information has to be digested and sorted over the course of less than twelve months. With professional help, though, that process is manageable.
Carter P. Reese, Informed Educational Solutions
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