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The Balancing Act of Senior Year: A Checklist For Keeping on Track

John Carpenter is the author of  Going Geek: What Every Smart Kid (and Every Smart Parent) Should Know About College Admissions and a monthly guest blogger for us here at College Admission. Today, John looks at the balancing, juggling, ring of fire, joyous act that is senior year. Read on to learn how students can enjoy the beginning of senior year and, with a checklist in hand, seize the day.

 

Classes are going full steam ahead, you’re getting used to your new schedule, you’re discovering ideas and people you hadn’t noticed before--yep, you’re a senior.  You’re in your last year of high school.  Very cool.

 

Time, time, time... Advice on Squeezing it All into the College Application Years

If experience has taught me anything about these waning years of hands-on parenting it is that there is very much a time and a place for parents to help. The area where parents can do their kids the greatest service is in time management.  Even the most mature teens would be hard pressed to recognize at the outset the huge demands on their time as the wind through the final years of high school.  Our role, I believe is not to do things for them, but to help them envision the process, its demands and how they will squeeze it all into their busy lives.

Here are some suggestions to help them on their way:

1. Help your child plan out their academic life

Sit down with your 9th grader or 10th grader and their high school course catalogue and plan backward from 12th grade. Together, think about what they hope to accomplish academically over their high school years. Help them pick the most challenging classes they hope to take in the subject areas they enjoy. Have them look at the prerequisites for these classes and the paths they are going to take to reach their goals. Granted interests change and so do school schedules, but but kids with a plan have goals for themselves.

2. Ask your child to select one activity in which they will try to excel.

Daniel Gin, Niles West High School

Dan Gin had been a generalist high school counselor for four years when he boarded the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC) Bus O' Fun Tour. Road tripping for a week through ten college campuses in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, Gin realized he had found his calling. "I could be the one who helps students find the right college," he said. And for the past eight years, Gin has, as the College and Career Counselor at Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois.

Set in a suburb eight miles north of Chicago, Niles West is a culturally diverse public high school serving more than 2,600 students. Among those students, there are 96 different spoken languages, with the most common being Urdu, Spanish and Assyrian. Thirty per cent of the students are English language learners. Another 30% are on free and reduced lunch. And since Skokie is in the first ring of suburbs on the borders of Chicago, one in four students are transfers. So as the only college counselor on staff -- though he's assisted by 11 generalist counselors -- Gin faces some special challenges.

What HS Juniors Should Be Doing about College

Independent college counselor Lee Bierer has some great advice for HS juniors on the college application process. You don't need to know which college you want to attend or what you want to study in order to prepare well -- from planning for testing to a first campus visit. Check out all her recommendations here.

Registering for the September ACT

If you're planning on taking the ACT on September 21st, remember:  August 23 is your last day to register before incurring late fees. Thanks for the heads up Todd Weaver! If you're taking the SAT, you've got some time. September 6th is the deadline for registering for the October 5th SAT sitting. Remember, there is no need for students to take both the SAT and ACT. Virtually all four-year colleges now accept either test. Famliarize yourself with both tests and take the one with which you feel most comfortable.

Valerie Velhagen of Albuquerque's Eldorado High School is Counselor of the Month

Valerie Velhagen thought she would be a professor or a lawyer like her father. But some time off before graduate school -- working in her father's law office and studying for the LSAT -- lead her to take a different path. Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a long way from Brooklyn, New York, where Velhagen was born and raised. But after graduating from Massachusetts' Brandeis University with a BA in English and Pennsylvania's Duquesne University with a Masters in a program centered on existential/phenomenological psychology, Velhagen, now the College and Career Readiness Counselor at Albuquerque's Eldorado High School, made her way from New York's largest borough to the city on the banks of the Rio Grande.

Juniors: The Five Most Important Things To Do This Summer

A great checklist for rising seniors from Palo Alto High School college advisor Sandra Cernobori. Here's what you should be thinking about and working on over the summer to get the best results in your college application process and have plenty of choices in the spring of 2014!

 

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