Summer has arrived. The next few months will be barren without school. However, in the fall, some students will face big decisions about their future, specifically about college.
Even though graduation may seem so far away, it comes quickly. While it may seem daunting, it is not impossible to get though the long, stressful, but rewarding process. There are many parts to take into consideration, so it helps to break down each step of the way (And for those who are younger, you should keep on reading too!).
During freshman and sophomore year, it is important to develop strong study habits and to do well in each class. Because these years are not as stressful, it is imperative to lay a solid foundation for the rest of high school. In addition to doing well academically, freshmen and sophomores should find hobbies, activities, and extracurriculars they like and participate in those things. Colleges look not only at students’ GPAs, but also at their non-academic achievements, whether it be in sports, music, writing, or anything else interesting that makes the student stand out. With this information in mind, lowerclassmen are on the path to success beyond high school (even if some may not choose to attend college).
While SATs and ACTs will come a little later, some preparation and practice goes a long way. Many students take the PSAT to see how ready they are for the actual tests. Although students should not stress out about these tests too much, they should consider taking a practice test or two and solidifying their reading, writing, and math skills. For SAT preparation, Khan Academy provides free, personalized SAT practice (and is a valuable tool for any subject).
Once junior year starts, the pace starts to quicken. By this time, high school is half-way over, and the next two years will go by in a flash. During 11th grade, most everyone takes the PSAT—competing for the National Merit Scholarship, a competitive award— in October, and some even take the SAT or ACT during the first semester. Students who will be taking these standardized tests should study well for them by addressing weak spots, specifically in reading, writing, and math. These tests check the student’s abilities to read and analyze a text, edit passages, and do algebraic and geometric problems.
Not only should juniors take the SAT or ACT, but they also need to consider colleges they might apply to, creating a list of the college’s requirements and the average profile of its admitted applicants (i.e. the average GPA and standardized test score). While most schools do not have a set requirement, they generally accept students at or above a certain threshold. For example, Florida State University’s average accepted student had a GPA between 4.0-4.5, an SAT score between 1240-1360, and an ACT score between 27-31.
By the time 12th grade arrives, seniors should know to which colleges they will apply. They need to submit their application by the school’s deadline and send their transcripts and test scores by the date listed on the school’s website. Most schools accept applications either through their website or through another site, like the Common App or Coalition. Seniors can find out all this information on the college’s web site. While this part of the process is long and tedious, it will eventually pass.
After the application process is over, students move into the waiting period. Depending on the school, students can expect to hear back within a few weeks or several months. They will receive either an e-mail or a written letter announcing the school’s decision. Admissions letters are the most rewarding part of the journey. While rejection letters hurt, they just mean that the school was not the right fit at this time. Instead of seeing a rejection letter as a negative thing, students can look at it as a positive thing, knowing there is a different, even better, plan for them. Then, students have until May 1 to decide whether or not to enroll at the schools that admitted them.
Through all the stress of school and life, it is very easy to become overwhelmed, discouraged, and burned out. Disappointments do happen, such as receiving a rejection letter from a university. However, despite the setbacks, there are many high points, too. While school should be taken seriously, it is just as necessary to develop a life outside of the academic world. Most of all, however, the most important thing is to trust God. He is guiding and shaping everyone’s life in such a way that brings Him the most glory. Although He expects His children to do their best, He is ultimately in control, and every door He opens or closes is ultimately for the best.
About the Author:
Katya Pledger is among our graduating seniors. She has been apart of TPS for four years and taken a total of 24 classes. As she looks back on her TPS years, she is thankful for the teachers who poured into her their time and talents. Of all the classes she took, several stand out: Anatomy and Physiology with Mrs. Gonzalez, Constitutional Law with Mrs. Youhas, Economics with Mr. Rucker, Forensic Science with Mr. Ullman, Spanish (levels 1, 2, and 3) with Sr. Poortenga, and U.S. Government and Politics with Mr. Monfreda. Outside the class room, Katya contributed to The Cracked Pot (rest in peace) as the global news columnist her junior year. While Katya is sad she will no longer be taking TPS classes, she is excited about her future plans. This fall, she will attend the Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, where she will study Health Management, Policy, and Information. But, she will always be a TPSer at heart.