Road Map for October: Juniors

October brings cooler weather, pumpkin spice treats, Halloween fun . . . and the PSAT. Good luck this week (when most 11th graders will take it.) I don’t normally recommend prep for the PSAT; most students should just use it as a diagnostic opportunity, but it’s often the kick-off to the college search. So here’s my to-do list for the next few weeks:

1. Take a practice ACT by the end of November. When your PSAT scores arrive in early December, compare the two and choose the test that’s best for you, decide when you’ll take it, and plan your prep. For more on this, join me on November 21 for This Is Only A Test: Standardized Testing and Test-Optional Admissions.

2. Visit at least two colleges by Thanksgiving. If you can arrange travel that’s great, but if your schedule or your COVID risk tolerance don’t allow for it, that’s OK. Local visits are valuable too–they’ll give you a sense of what’s out there and how colleges are different from each other. That allows you to develop your priorities for what you want in your college experience and criteria for schools that will ultimately go on your list.

3. Do some online college research. Review the academics, student/campus life and admissions sections on the websites of colleges you’re interested in. Then do a virtual tour and register for a virtual information session.

Another approach is to participate in a virtual college fair where you can learn about multiple schools, connect with their recruiters, and ask questions that will help you decide if the college is a good fit. Bonus: in addition to learning about the college, any event you register for and attend is a way is a way to demonstrate interest in the school, which often counts in your favor in the admissions process.