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How and when should I get prepared for college application season?

I am currently an 11th grade student in high school and I'm uncertain on where to get started.

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Chirayu’s Answer

It's great that you're thinking ahead and preparing for college application season. Look into colleges that interest you and find out what their requirements are. You can start by checking out their websites, attending college fairs, and speaking with college representatives. You'll need to take the SAT or ACT, so start studying for these tests early. You may also need to take subject tests, so check with the colleges you're interested in to see what they require. Your guidance counselor can provide valuable advice on the college application process and help you with any questions or concerns you have. Based on your research, start building a list of colleges you're interested in. Make sure to consider factors such as location, cost, size, and program offerings. Once you've narrowed down your list of potential colleges, start working on your application. This will likely include writing essays, gathering recommendation letters, and filling out forms. Keep track of deadlines, requirements, and other important information using a planner or spreadsheet. Good luck!




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Ross’s Answer

The time to start thinking about college admissions is during your junior year in HS. Review your academic core and early test scores with your HS academic counselors.
Start the application process the 2nd semester of your Jr year. Most universities will have early admissions based off of the HS students academic standing & core curriculum.
If you haven’t done any community service or internships, now is the time. Look for ways to separate yourself from the masses.
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Briana’s Answer

Hi, Ivan!

Eleventh grade is a good time to start planning your college applications if you hope to attend college the fall after your high school graduation. Here is what you need:

-a list of universities you are interested in applying to
-a list of application requirements for each
-determine if they require standardized tests
-deternine if your high school needs to send them an official GPA transcript
-2-3 teachers, mentors, or work supervisors who can write a recommendation letter
-a personal essay
-gather your family's tax and other financial information from the last year (for the FAFSA- federal student scholarships that do not need to be paid back)

The common application (https://www.commonapp.org/) is taken by many universities. This is a standard application that you can send out to multiple schools. Research if your chosen schools accept the Common App and if they have any extra application requirements unique to their university. The application typically opens in the summer before your senior year.

Now is a good time to begin narrowing down your list of colleges, drafting your student essay and getting feedback, asking for quality recommendation letters, researching scholarships and grants, and taking standardized tests (if they are required). If you have a college counselor or guidance counselor, they are very helpful in this process.

Briana recommends the following next steps:

Take a look at the Common App website
Take a look at the FAFSA website
Research other local, state-level, narional, or college-specific scholarships and financial aid
Find 2-3 target universities and research their application requirements
Thank you comment icon Hi Briana: Your comments are insightful. Your checklist is exactly what I did for my two young adults many years ago. Thanks for sharing. Sheila Jordan
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Gabriel’s Answer

Unrelated to the advice given by my venerable colleagues (in spirit...we're never met), start thinking about financial aid. How are you going to cover costs? If it's a non-issue, apologies. If you are eligible, make sure you complete your FAFSA. This will decide what you may be eligible for in terms of federal grants and loans, and in most cases state grants as well.

Since you're not yet a senior, you should use https://studentaid.gov/aid-estimator/

The results will give you an EFC. (Expected Family Contribution.) If you have specific colleges in mind, you can go to their websites and search for "Net Price Calculator". That will give you a rough idea of what costs might be. (Barring any changes the school makes in the next year.)

Kudos for asking before you're about to graduate. You Got This!
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Bailey’s Answer

Great question, Ivan!

If you already have an idea of what you want to major in/career field to be, then the first step is complete. If not, it would be best to think about what you want to do after college so this can help you narrow your search down. Once you have an idea, you can research different colleges that align with your interests and career choice. You can research through their websites and through friends or family that know about the colleges you are thinking. You can make appointments with your school counselor's or a college advisor/counselor. They are always a great help! They will be able to tell you when deadlines are, requirements, what your curriculum would be like, etc. You should make sure you apply and have everything complete (application, recommendation letters, test scores/transcripts, state and federal aid sent, etc.). After you have everything submitted, the colleges will send out letters for acceptance. Once you are accepted to a college, they will have other items for you to complete; however, they usually communicate those through letters and emails as well!

Good luck!
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Vamshee’s Answer

You can make an appointment with your school counselors, they are very helpful and guide you in this process.

In the mean time , you can read the following to get an idea.

What do colleges look for?
Admissions officers review many factors in a student’s application, but in general, they are looking to see that you have made the most out of your entire high school education.

Plan out what classes and extracurriculars you’d like to take as early as possible to have a reliable trajectory to follow throughout your high school career. Not only will this allow you to utilize your four years in high school intelligently, but this will also mitigate the chances of unpreparedness and procrastination when it's actually time for college applications. There is nothing more stressful than realizing you have multiple unfulfilled requirements during your junior year of high school.

As you are selecting your high school classes, keep in mind that admissions officers like to see that you’ve challenged yourself. That means taking honors or college prep classes, like Advanced Placement (AP.) Again, colleges favor students who have pushed themselves out of their comfort zone, so you can demonstrate that by taking higher-level courses in subjects that you excel in.

What GPA do I need to get into college?
Grades play a significant role in the college admissions process. With that being said, there is no black-or-white answer when it comes to your GPA and college applications.

There is no specific GPA you need to get into college, and what GPA you need to stand out in the application process will vary from college to college. In general, to get into any four-year college, you should at least have a 2.0 GPA or higher. If you’re aiming to get into a more selective college (less than a 60% acceptance rate), then you should be aiming for at least a 3.5 GPA.

However, the aforementioned GPAs are just estimates, and it will not apply to every student or every college. Admissions officers often will not just look at the number, but they will consider other contextual factors.

For example, the way GPA is calculated varies from high school to high school, which means that a 4.0 at your high school may be viewed differently from a 4.0 at another high school. Moreover, the difficulty of your high school courses will impact the way an admissions officer views your GPA. If your GPA is lower than another student’s because you took more AP classes, then that will play a huge factor in how a college will regard your GPA.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your GPA is not the only factor colleges look at. While it is a significant factor, admissions offices will also weigh your application essays, extracurriculars, and letters of recommendation.

How can I increase my chances of getting into college?
GPA aside, there are many ways to beef up your college application in order to make an impact on an admissions officer.

Score high on the ACT/SAT
Write compelling essays and a personal statement
Demonstrate genuine interest in the college you are applying to
Secure strong letters of recommendation
Apply to multiple colleges
Utilize early admissions/early action to your top college
Manage your social media responsibly
Ask for help!

Should I consider tutoring to help me get into college?
Yes! Tutoring is an excellent way to support your college application process. If you are struggling in a class or your standardized testing, tutoring is a great way to level up your skills and gain confidence in any subject.

Some schools offers Peer tutoring/Afterschool tutoring with teachers which can be utilized.

Khan academy offers free courses and online videos for all grades, one can benefit from using this ...as long as one has good internet connection you can do it from your home or anywhere.

https://www.khanacademy.org/
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