College Planning 101… a few ideas to help you prepare
- Ginna Woessner
For further college planning information, check out this College Planning Guide!
As I meet with families to schedule classes, I am frequently asked questions about college admissions. If this is your first child going to college, this process can be very daunting. Does my child meet the entrance requirements? What about ACT tests or SAT tests? How will we ever pay for college? How will we choose the right school? These questions and hundreds of others will flood your mind and can make the process quite stressful. So, take a deep breath and let’s take a look at some useful resources. As Counselor to students in Grades 9-12, it is my responsibility and pleasure to help your child apply to college. I will talk with your students about issues such as public school or private school, big or small school, urban or rural setting, choices of majors, and financial aid. We will individualize the process to make it fit your child’s needs. While the process will be different for each family, there are some commonalities and useful resources that every family might want to explore.
In general terms, preparing for college begins with scheduling for the ninth grade year. Most four-year colleges want a student to have taken a minimum of four years of English, three years of Mathematics (usually Algebra, Geometry, and Advanced Algebra), two years of Science (including Chemistry), three years of History/Social Sciences, and two years of Foreign Language. While many schools will accept students who do not meet this standards, many others want an even more rigorous college preparatory background. While our 9th and 10th graders are busy trying to get the best grades possible for college, they should also begin to build a resume of extra-curricular involvement. Sports, Band, Drama, Volunteer Work, Clubs, and Summer Jobs and Classes can all strengthen a child’s chances of being accepted to the college of his or her choice. In the Fall of the student’s eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh grades, we will give all students a version of a PSAT test. These PSAT tests are preparatory tests for the SAT. The PSAT/NMSQT score in a student’s junior year can qualify very academically talented students for the National Merit Scholarship program. In April of a student’s Junior year, the SAT test will be given to all students. If a student is not satisfied with his or her scores, this test may be retaken. Students can register on-line to take either an ACT or an SAT and students make take these tests more than once. Some very selective schools will require one or more SAT II tests. These tests cover material in a specific subject (such as Writing).
So, your child has taken the right classes, built an extra-curricular resume, and taken all the tests. Now what? Glen Lake College Night will be held in the Spring for parents of Juniors. This allows families to plan college visits in the summer and gives me more time to advise and plan with each student. We have many wonderful resources in the Guidance Office and you are always invited to stop in and browse or call for an appointment.
In addition, the Internet has become a wonderful resource for Virtual Tours of most colleges, search engines for college selections, and financial aid information. Please use our school’s website for college counseling as it has links to useful resources:
www.ecampustours.com (look at their Plan for College: grade 8-12)
Our most important goal as a school is to prepare your child for a productive life as an adult. While the vast majority of our students leave our school and attend a community college or a four-year college, we are also pleased to work with students as they look for apprenticeships, military opportunities, and employment.
Please consider us as your partner in this important work.