As colleges start back up after winter break, this is a good time to plan your campus visits for the new semester; check out these tips for campus tours and these spring semester open house events. If you like college sports, you might be able to attend a basketball game during a winter trip, which can give you feel for school spirit. DCPS students can take advantage of no-school days on January 19 and February 16, but if you can’t visit in person right now, continue your exploration through online research.
Have you finalized your plan for SAT or ACT testing and prep? Consider which test you’re likely to do better on and how much time you’ll need to be ready for your first sitting, then choose your test dates and register. (The ACT is given in February, April, June and July, while the SAT is offered in March, May, June and August.)
As you approach the end of the first semester, take stock of how your year is going and where your strengths and weaknesses are. For classes in which there’s room for improvement, make a plan. For those in which you’re doing well, start thinking about your letters of recommendation for college. Junior year teachers are usually good choices, so invest now in those relationships and make sure your teachers have lots of good things to say about you when you ask for a recommendation later on. (There’s no rush now, but you’ll want to make the request before the end of the school year.)
Speaking of relationships, many school counselors are starting to meet with juniors now that seniors are finishing up their college applications. Whether or not you work one-on-one with an independent educational consultant, your school counselor plays an essential role on your behalf, including writing a recommendation for you that most colleges require. Develop a strong relationship with your counselor now and he or she can be an important advocate when you submit your applications in your senior year.