Essential Skills College-Bound Kids Should Know

Prepare for Independence:

This is a list of activities students should know how to do before they leave home. The list is long, but not difficult so review and persevere. Sometimes they will have to learn by trial and error. Most of the items listed apply to all students, although some will not be experienced until students actually live off campus and are on their own.

If your student has not checked off all the things listed, prior to leaving for college, don’t sweat it.  Your student’s development is a work in progress. Learning is a life-long endeavor. Keep encouraging your student to move forward; self-sufficiency is powerful tool!

Financial Matters:

  • Write a check
  • Cash a check
  • Know your debit card balance – Download your banks app
  • Know how to transfer funds (via phone app is even better!) – Look into PayPal or Venmo as an easy way to transfer money
  • Pay a bill (check or online) – Look into auto draft as an option to avoid any late fees!
  • Advise debit/credit card companies of card use when traveling – This only applies when you’re going out of the country
  • Withdraw cash from an ATM
  • Save for a goal
  • Pay rent & utilities (split with roommates) – Again, investigate autopay if necessary.  If one person will be paying the entire bill, set up an automatic transfer so that you’re never late on payments and they don’t have to “bug” you for your portion
  • Use campus “points” with meal plans
  •  Calculate a tip – Your cell phone can do this for you.
  •  Pay for dinner
  •  Cancel a membership – be sure to confirm whether there are any fees for cancelling before the contract is up
  •   Figure out the cost of postage and shipping

Travel Matters:

  •   Make travel arrangements – air, bus, train
  •   Navigate an airport, train or bus station
  •   Deal with a cancelled flight
  •   Take an Uber or Lyft, have the app and know how to use it
  •   Get around locally without a phone
  •   Pack a suitcase – When traveling for a trip, you can use this handy list to make sure you don’t forget anything: Pack This!
  •   Follow TSA rules
  •   Catch the local train/subway
  •   Check tire pressure
  •   Change a tire
  •   Check the oil
  •   Jump-start a car
  •   Parallel park

Wellness Matters:

  •   Make an appointment (hair, dentist, doctor)
  •   Self-prescribe over-the-counter meds – When in doubt, if you go to the local pharmacy (CVS, Rite Aid – you can tell someone there your symptoms and they can easily recommend an over the counter medication to you)
  •   Know basic first aid
  •   Locate the campus health center
  •   Know when to call a doctor or go to a doc-in-the-box
  •   Carry a medical insurance card and know when to use it

Meals and Laundry Matters:

  •   Cook a meal – simple things they like
  •   Go food shopping – what to look for in fresh food items
  •   Load a dishwasher
  •   Put out a kitchen fire
  •   Buy clothes
  •   Return a purchase – Key thing is to hold onto your receipt!
  •   Do the laundry – remember to go back and move it to the dryer and back to your room
  •   Remove a stain
  •   Iron a shirt
  •   Sew a button
  •   Importance of good nutrition and vitamins
  •   How to store leftovers
  •   When to toss old food

Household Matters:

  •   Hook up cable
  •   Change a name on utility bills
  •   Unclog a toilet/sink
  •   Check the smoke alarm/CO2 alarm
  •   Fix basic household problems
  •   Renew car license plates & insurance
  •   How to vote absentee

General Matters:

  •   Think critically and question the status quo
  •   Manage your time
  •   Dress properly
  •   How to approach and meet new people
  •   Be a respectful house guest
  •   How to ask for help

And last, but not least, most important matters:

  •   Negotiate a deal
  •   Write (not email) a thank you note
  •   Say “no” with confidence

TIP: When hurting and in doubt, call home

You probably have mastered some of these before high school graduation. Be as ready as possible so you have a smooth transition and success.

There are some life lessons that we cannot predict nor protect you from: broken hearts, failing a test, making friends, losing friends, or saying they are sorry. Believe in yourself, and continue to move forward and upward, understanding that there will be setbacks.

Options for College Visits

Which type of visit would be best for you: Open Houses, Autumn Preview Days, specific Major or Honors College tours, Personalized Visits, an Overnight Visit, or a regular tour? Your choice may be limited by family availability, but here are the basics:

Open Houses

Many of these take place on Saturdays, Columbus Day, or President’s Day. The advantage of attending an Open House can be the variety and number of activities to participate in. There is usually more going on during an Open House than there is during a tour and information session. For example, there may be specific tours or sessions related to majors, study abroad information meetings, meetings with faculty and financial aid representatives, and lunch in the cafeteria. Open Houses can last anywhere from 4 – 6 hours.

Tours of Majors / Schools

Quite often colleges will offer tours of specific programs so you can learn more in-depth what is offered and what differentiates them. This is worthwhile if you are sure of what you want to study.

Personal / Individual Visits

If you have narrowed your list to a few schools this type of trip can be well worth the time. A personalized experience allows students to observe classes and meet with professors and other students. In order to arrange a personal visit, call the admissions office and give them at least three weeks notice.

Overnight Visits

Not all colleges allow this, due to a variety of reasons such as liability. The schools that do offer an overnight visit, usually arrange a stay on campus with a current student.

Honors College Programs

These programs can be a way for students of a large university to have a small school experience and access to some of the best professors the college has to offer. Quite often there are designated dorms. There may even be opportunities other students do not have when registering for classes.  And in many instances, honor students have access to merit scholarships.

Visiting Colleges


Plan your college visit ahead of time and see a number of suitable colleges in the same geographic area. You can use the website, and click on Trip Planner which can show you routing from one university to another, as well as nearby hotels. Also, when you input each college on the list it usually gives you links to the colleges’ websites so that you can sign up to attend the information session and the tour. Then it will tell you the distance between the schools, and the roads that you can take. Google Maps also works well for trip planning. Do not plan to visit more than two colleges in a day, as it becomes very stressful and hard to remember the details of each college.

Do You Need to Visit

The general rule of thumb that college admissions counselors use is that if you are within four hours of the school, you should take the time to visit the college to show that you are truly interested in them. Further than four hours the school does not require it, but you will need to show interest, see this article Demonstrate Interest. Most big universities do not track your interest level at all, as it is mostly a numbers game for them. If you have chosen the right classes, you have a GPA the college looks for, and test scores in the college’s range, you should get admitted. Touring colleges will hep you determine what is important to you and broaden you understanding of choices, Options for Visiting a College.

Being Engaged

This college visit is an important opportunity for you to really understand what the college can offer you, and if it is a good fit. Do not let your cell phone or a conversation with a friend distract you from this task. Decide which of these questions you want to ask the tour guide, Questions to ask on a College Visit. Silence your cell phone and be engaged so that you have accurate memories.

Eat at the College

I generally recommend that people go to the cafeteria and eat, so that you have an idea of the quality of food and the atmosphere. Additionally you can either observe students or sit down and talk to some and get a more candid picture of the college. You can learn a lot from students who are on campus and they should answer your questions honestly. Just remember that there are many opinions, but the more information that you have the better your decision will be.


I always recommend visiting schools when they are in session so that you can get a better feel for their students and the atmosphere. This can be done during any holidays or spring breaks, as well as quick visits on Saturdays. Most colleges give two tours on Saturdays and some also do Sunday tours. Going in the fall can be a very busy time for colleges, so you may need to plan quite a bit ahead to make sure you can be part of the group. If it is a college that recommends that you interview with an admissions representative on campus, make sure that I have time to prepare you for the interview.

Use My Checklist

Use a checklist to write down your thoughts, so you won’t confuse information from one college campus with another. While you are on the tour ask questions that you have to the tour guide or the person running the information session. Just realize that these people are not always candid, and most are being paid by admissions to represent the college.

After the visit take the time to record what you really liked, as well as the aspects that you did not. Think about whether that school could be your home for the next four years. Put an approximate rank on the school and feel free to change that as you go. These notes will help you when you need to make a decision at the end.

Questions to Ask on a College Visit

Finding the right college fit requires matching multiple key characteristics. College visits are an important part of a well-rounded college research strategy.

During a campus tour, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the many buildings, programs and information that is given.

Take a copy of this college visit questionnaire with you on your next campus tour and make the most out of your next college visit.

Ask the questions that are important to you, and write down your answers and impressions.

College Academics

  • Professor Availability: Does the university use teaching assistants for it’s large lectures? Is it important to be taught by a professor? Are professors or teaching assistants available if you have questions?
  • Popular Programs/Majors
    • Do they have what you want? If you change your major are their other good choices?
  • Classroom environment:
    • Are the lecture facilities comfortable?
    • How large are classes freshman year?
  • Internships
    • Does the College have opportunities in your area of interest?
    • Does the Career Center help you find Internships?
    • What percentage of Students do Internships?
  • Study Abroad Opportunities
    • Are you interested in visiting the areas that are on the college’s program?
    • Does it cost significantly more or is the cost the same to study abroad?
  • Available Technology
    • Wireless coverage on campus?
    • What types of devices can you use on the network?
    • Are there shared computers available for you to use?
  • Library Facilities and Resources
    • Can you see yourself studying there?
    • Do they have enough meeting rooms and study spaces?

Campus Life

  • Number of students enrolled (and is it a good size for you)?
  • Is there Greek life? – Fraternities and Sororities
  • What are the Special Campus Events?
  • How Many Students Live on Campus vs. commuting?
  • Is housing guaranteed all four years? (If not for how many years is it guaranteed?)
  • If the dorms are co-ed, is it by wing, floor, or every other room?
  • What are the best dorms on campus?
  • What happens on campus on the weekends? (Does it empty out or is there plenty to do?)
  • Can freshmen have cars? (Are cars necessary and easy to accommodate?)
  • Sporting Events – which ones are well attended? How is the school spirit?
  • Dining Facilities: Go see them and eat there. How is the atmosphere? How is the food?

Campus Setting

  • Location of College (City, State) and (Urban vs. Rural)
  • Surrounding Community (College Town) is it safe? Is it a place you want to spend time?
  • Distance from major cities and attractions that you want
  • Activities on campus and surrounding neighborhoods
  • Is the student body diverse or does one type dominate?

Look of the College

  • How good is the quality of the Dorms and Nearby Housing
  • Lecture Halls & Classrooms
  • Is there easy Access and Transportation from your home and to classes
  • Libraries – What are their hours?
  • Security & Safety – What is the crime rate? Theft rate?
  • Current Construction Projects show that money is being spent.
  • How Well Are Current Facilities Maintained?
  • Recreation and/or Fitness Centers would you want to workout there?

Admission Criteria

  • What are the College’s Requirements and What Should  you Include with the Application
  • Are you a good fit for this college given your GPA & Test Scores
  • What Scholarships and Grants are Offered
  • Student Support/Counseling Center

General Questions for Current Students

  • What is one positive feature about this college?
  • What is one negative feature about this college?
  • What outstanding professors or courses might the tour guide recommend regardless of a student’s major?
  • What is the quality of faculty advising?
  • How is the student turnout and spirit at sporting events?

Your Overall Notes

  • What features (activities, traditions, location) pertaining to the student experience sound appealing?
  • Is there anything you didn’t like about this particular college?
  •  Is there anything else you would like to know about the school?
  • Use this space for other notes about this college:

Join the conversation – share your favorite college visit questions on our Facebook page!

Campus Visit Review

As you drive home from a campus visit take advantage of the drive time to review your experience! Write down your opinions while the experience is still fresh on your mind.

College: _____________________________ City/State:__________________________ Admissions Office Representative:______________________________________________ Tour Guide:__________________________ Email: _____________________________ Campus Visit Date: ___________________

Tour /  Rate each category (5 being best)

Grounds / Setting       Campus Housing       Student Center       Classroom Buildings        Class Size

Library Resources       Size       Energy       People        Athletics       Social Life       Cafeteria / Food

Fitness Center          Student Clubs / Organizations         Career Resources          Other




If you interview, Interviewer’s name Email:___________________________________________________________

What did I learn about the school:



Off Campus Life (i.e. music, movies, shopping, restaurants, cafes, art, theater, events)


Near campus:


City Highlights:


Outdoor Activities Nearby:


Transportation Options:



What I like least:


Level of academic challenge? Just right   Too difficult  Too easy  Would I feel comfortable here?

Does this school have what I am looking for?

Should I apply to this school? Why:


11th Grade College Planning Timeline

Eleventh grade is very important in the college planning process, with standardized testing, defining your college list, connecting with teachers for strong letter of recommendation, and keeping your grades high. 

This Fall – This year the college search process really gets going.

Do some early research
Look at these articles Finding a College that you Love and Researching a College to see what is important. Then use Scoir to look at colleges that might be of interest. The website provides good college entrance information, as well as information about what schools offer. Find time for you to check out some of the websites and pick colleges that you are interested in exploring. Reach out to the admissions office and ask them to send you information. Most colleges track all contact that you have with them to determine how interested you are in the school.

Focus on getting the best grades that you can, and getting help where needed
Monitor your grades throughout the year and find ways to keep them high. Talk to teaches when you don’t understand a concept, and ask for extra work at the end of a semester when you grade is a on the edge of a higher one. Showing an interest and communicating with your teacher can make a difference in your grade.

Organize your college information
Set up a filing system on your computer or use file folders for each college’s correspondence and printed materials. This will make it easier to locate the specific information you’re looking for.

Try to find time to visit colleges on your days off
Seeing colleges in session is more useful than during the summer. It gives you a chance to see the students and the vibe of the campus.See my article Visiting Colleges. There may be Options for College Visits so check on them. Take a tour and attend the information session. You may also be able to talk to students or sit in on a class which interests you.

Be an active participant
Go to college fairs at your school or other venues, speak with college representatives who visit your high school, like colleges’ Facebook pages after you have enhanced yours, see Colleges Look at your Social Media. Be open-minded as many students change their criteria significantly during this process.

Be prepared by practicing
Please register for them and mark those dates on your calendar. You will need to prepare by taking practice tests and getting comfortable with the material.

This Winter – Stay involved and prepare for standardized tests

Make a difference with your extracurricular activities
Colleges look for consistency and depth in the activities you pursue. Taking on leadership roles or starting a new venture and making a commitment is significantly more important than just being a member of an activity. I will be sending out an article on this shortly.

Discuss colleges with family and friends
Have discussions about the colleges you’re interested in and learn more about them. Talk to students about what college life is like, especially if they attend a school you’re interested in. Although it’s important to hear what the admissions staff has to say about a school, it’s also important to get the students’ perspective. Your family and friends can learn about what you want to pursue and you can hear any concerns or suggestions they might have. Also feel free to e-mail me with any questions or information that you need.

Use your summer wisely, plan ahead

Summer employment and internships in fields you’re interested in is ideal and powerful on a college application or resume, but there are many other options, Summer Activities that Give you and Edge, and Summer Activities part 2. Be involved in something that interests you. One needs to start looking into this in the winter as some programs and opportunities have early deadlines.

Next Spring – Take the standardized test at least twice and keep your grades high
Continue to prepare for standardized tests.
Practice makes testing easier, less stressful, and you more successful. Take either the SAT or the ACT at least twice in junior year. If you need SAT subject tests schedule them for June. Know that you can take the ACT or SAT again in the fall of your senior year if you’re unhappy with your scores.

Pick classes for senior year.
Touch base with me before you pick your classes, don’t load up on easy electives. Colleges do review your senior year courses and grades, so challenge yourself and take classes that are in your areas of interest. See this article for more information, How Many AP’s to Take.

Some high schools want you to ask teachers for letters of recommendation before the summer
Teachers and guidance counselors are often asked to write recommendations for lots of students. Consider whom you want to ask now and let them know so they’ll have time to prepare before the fall. Ask teachers who know you well and who will have positive things to say. Please read this article to get the best letter possible, How to get a Great Recommendation.  If you have a coach, activity leader, or a boss who knows you well outside of school and can speak to your accomplishments and character that is also valuable.

Plan campus visits during Spring break

You should plan ahead and sign up for the tours when visiting colleges. Spring break can be a very busy time for colleges, so make sure there is room. You can sign up on-line or call the admissions office. There may be Options for College Visits so check on them.

This Summer

Make your time productive
Students should be participating in constructive activities during the year, colleges care. If your child has a career goal in mind, see if you can help arrange a day where he or she can “shadow” someone who works in that field.

More Questions to Ask on Your College Visit

The more you know about each college, the better your ultimate decision will be. Ask questions and weigh your options.

General Academics

How much time do students typically spend on homework?

How much writing and reading are expected?

What is the average class size of introductory classes?

How widely used are teaching assistants on your campus?

What is the average class size of upper-division courses?


Academic Perks (These are programs that you want available)

Is the a first year experience program?

Are some of the classes interactive or project based?

Where can one study abroad?

Do you offer service learning?

What opportunities are there for undergraduate research?

How many students participate in undergraduate research?

Is there a culminating senior year experience?

Do you have an honors college?


Graduation Rates

What is your four-year graduation rate?

What is your five-year graduation rate?

What does it take to graduate in four years?

What percentage of freshmen return for sophomore year?


Academic Support

What type of tutoring program do you have? Is it free?

How do you provide academic advice to students?

Do you have a writing center and how do I access it?

What kind of learning disability resources do you have?


Other Opportunities

How many students at the college get internships? When do they start?

What percentage of students study abroad? Where can they go?

What type of career services do you offer? Can one start in Freshman year?


Student Life

What kind of dorm choices are there for Freshman, Sophomores, etc.?

What percentage of student live on campus?

How long are housing accommodations guaranteed for students?

Do most students go home on the weekend?

What percentage of the study body belongs to a sorority or fraternity?

What activities are offered to students which differentiate your college?

What clubs are popular on campus?


Questions for the Financial Aid Department

What is your average financial aid package?

What is the typical breakdown of loans versus grants?

What percentage of financial need does the school typically meet?

What is the average merit award?

What percentage of students receive college grants?

What is the average college debt that students leave with?

What work-study opportunities are there?

How to Find a College that You Love

When Looking for a College, Start with the Important Characteristics:

Determine location, size, cost, surroundings, appearance, and of course academic level. Finding a college that you love is similar to finding a house, it is not an exact science. Most of the time when you do fall in love you keep that feeling, although anywhere you live will have surprises that you did not expect, both good and bad. Many students do not take the time and energy to effectively research colleges to make good decisions.  33% of students leave the college they started at before their sophomore year, and 50% of students never graduate from the institution they enter. Every person is different, and what resonates with them at a college is generally a good indication of fit, if they look at the appropriate factors.

 Is College only about a Major?

Most students change their minds twice about their major while they are in college, so that should not be the only criteria for picking a college. What I expect students to get out of an education is the ability to write effectively, speak persuasively, and analyze data. Our world is changing and there are jobs that we have not even dreamed of that this new generation will be doing. College teaches you to think and solve problems at a higher level. It gives you the tools to think at a high level, take on new jobs, and handle problems independently.

What Makes a Student Successful at College?

Ultimately the energy and time that a student puts into the positive aspects of college, determine what they get out of it. Studies show that having a good connection with a professor not only leads students to do well at a college, but to be more successful throughout their lives. Taking challenging courses that build on their strengths, being involved in and outside of the classroom with activities, and exposing their minds to new concepts and ways of life. College teaches you to solve problems, live independently, and expand your horizons.

Graduates don’t seem to be getting jobs…

In today’s job market many students do not get the type of job they want right away. The best way to be successful is to have internships in your areas of interest every summer, build a strong resume, and interview effectively. Having good employer recommendations and past work experience can set you apart from other graduates.

Demonstrate Interest!!

Students need to show colleges that they are interested in attending by doing more than just filling out the application.

The college landscape has changed significantly in the last few years and decisions are made based on big data. What does that mean to you? Colleges are trying to have more students apply because it helps their standing in U.S. News and World Report. Once they have all their applications, they need to determine which students will actually attend, versus which students see them as a safety school, or even fifth on their list (this ratio also helps their ranking because unless they are a big state college, they care about who accepts their offers).

What should you do to look like an interested applicant?

Please note: This does not apply to many large state colleges who generally do not track this.
First, if you live within 4 hours of a college they want you to visit the school and take the tour. If haven’t visited the college, you should consider visiting before your application is due.

Here are a number of ways to show interest to the admission office:
•    Request that the college sends you information. Then open every e-mail that they send because they track that.
•    Find out, by a phone call or e-mail, when your admissions representative will be in your area so you can meet with them. Attend admissions talks and ask the admissions officer a pre-rehearsed, thoughtful, intelligent question, so that they remember you. Ask for their business card and be sure to follow-up.
•    See if representatives are coming to your school for an official visit and attend the session. Afterwards shake their hand, get their business card, ask your pre-rehearsed question, and send them a follow-up e-mail.
•    Clean up your social media and then “like” / “follow” them on Facebook or Twitter.
•    See if the college offers interviews and schedule one. Please meet with me to review interviewing techniques before you have it.
•    If you play a sport, contact the coach and let them know about your interest.
•    Submit an art or music supplement. Ask a real questions which cannot be answered by looking on the website.
•    If a college is your first choice school, let admissions know in an e-mail, and tell them why it is a great match for you.

Some colleges track every interaction that you have with the school, spend your time wisely and let the colleges know that they are important to you.

Here is a list of Colleges Where Demonstrated Interest is Important or Very Important

From: College Kickstart LLC

Institution State Demonstrated Interest
Allegheny College PA Important
American University DC Very important
Assumption College MA Important
Auburn University AL Important
Augustana College IL Important
Austin College TX Important
Bates College ME Important
Bentley University MA Important
Boston University MA Important
Brandeis University MA Important
Butler University IN Important
California Baptist University CA Important
Christopher Newport University VA Important
College of Wooster OH Important
Cooper Union NY Important
DePaul University IL Important
Dickinson College PA Very important
Eckerd College FL Important
Elmira College NY Important
Emmanuel College – MA MA Important
Evergreen State College WA Important
Fairfield University CT Important
Florida Institute of Technology FL Important
Florida Southern College FL Important
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering MA Very important
High Point University NC Important
Hillsdale College MI Very important
Ithaca College NY Very important
Kansas State University KS Important
Kenyon College OH Important
Lehigh University PA Important
Louisiana Tech University LA Important
Loyola University Chicago IL Important
Marlboro College VT Important
Marymount California University CA Important
Marymount Manhattan College NY Important
Merrimack College MA Important
Michigan State University MI Important
Morehouse College GA Very important
New College of Florida FL Important
Notre Dame de Namur University CA Important
Oglethorpe University GA Important
Pratt Institute NY Important
Quinnipiac University CT Very important
Reed College OR Important
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute NY Important
Roanoke College VA Important
Roger Williams University RI Important
Sacred Heart University CT Important
Saint Johns College – MD MD Important
Saint Johns College – NM NM Important
Samford University AL Important
Seattle University WA Important
Seton Hall University NJ Important
Skidmore College NY Important
Soka University of America CA Important
State University of New York – Environmental Science and Forestry NY Very important
Susquehanna University PA Important
Syracuse University NY Very important
Trinity College CT Important
United States Air Force Academy CO Very important
United States Military Academy NY Important
United States Naval Academy MD Very important
University of Arizona AZ Important
University of Dayton OH Important
University of Massachusetts – Amherst MA Important
University of North Carolina – Asheville NC Important
University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley TX Important
University of Texas – Tyler TX Very important
University of Tulsa OK Important
University of Wisconsin – La Crosse WI Important
Wabash College IN Very important
Washington College MD Very important
Washington University at St. Louis MO Important
Webb Institute NY Very important
Western Washington University WA Important
Westmont College CA Very important
Wheaton College – MA MA Important

What Your Guidance Counselor Won’t Tell You

Valedictorians are denied admission by elite institutions frequently.  According to 2009-2010 NCES data, there are more than 23,000 high schools in the U.S. and each one has a valedictorian. Further, according to the U.S. Dept. of Education, more than 35% of graduating seniors have an A average. There are a LOT of well-qualified applicants to Ivy League institutions and other elite colleges that don’t get in!  In-depth and unique extra-curricular involvement, excellent SAT/ACT scores, demonstrated leadership and awards for your talents may not be enough to secure a spot at a top-tier institution. These schools also look for passionate students who are already very accomplished in research, the arts, sports, academics, or philanthropic endeavors.

It’s almost always better to apply early. College admission offices want to put together their class as efficiently as possible. For some colleges, that means they’ll fill more than half of their freshman class with early action and early decision applicants.  Applying regular decision when there are fewer spots can mean your file is suddenly much less appealing, even if you are a competitive applicant to begin with. Colleges with rolling admission also tend to favor early applicants for the same reasons. While your high school guidance office may feel overwhelmed with requests to gather your information earlier in the school year, it’s almost always a good idea not to wait to apply.

You can still secure merit aid money even if you aren’t a perfect student. The trade-off is that it may be at a less-competitive institution. These colleges will want to raise their GPA and SAT/ACT profile with their entering class and your scores and GPA may help in that effort. You may also find it is easier to secure admission or scholarship at out-of-state institutions since they’ll be looking to increase geographic diversity a

You’re better off visiting a college when students are on campus. Though it’s convenient to visit a college during a holiday or summer break, those breaks may also coincide with the college’s not having students around. That may be fine for an initial visit, but if you want to attend the school, you should take time away from your high school classes to make visiting colleges while they’re in session a priority. There’s no substitute for seeing a college campus while students are there! It’s easier to get a feel for your “fit” on campus when you can see the surrounding neighborhood, the students walking around, and the overall energy of campus. You’ll also find it’s easier to visualize yourself on a college’s campus when other students are there.

The “right” amount of colleges that you should apply to can be anywhere from 4 – 10. Some students apply early decision and find out before any other applications are due, but they should have a list of other schools that interest them. As you move through your senior year, your preferences and the type of colleges that fit your needs may shift. Having an equally divided split of safety, stretch, and reasonable schools will give you plenty of options to consider as the acceptances and aid packages roll in.

Your GPA may be recalculated, and as a result, your 9th grade performance matters just as much as your performance in 11th grade.  It’s important to note that colleges often need a way to compare GPAs across different high schools. So, they create a level playing field by pulling out your core academic coursework from your transcript and recalculating your GPA. Take every year seriously; have a strong start and continue that trend throughout high school.