College Planning 101… a few ideas to help you prepare
- Ginna Woessner
For further college planning information, check out this College Planning Guide!
As you begin to think about your child going to college it may feel completely overwhelming. 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 the students in grades nine through twelve, it is my responsibility and pleasure to work with our students as they apply to college. I will talk with your students about issues such as public or private, 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 colleges want a student to have taken a minimum of four years of English, three years of mathematics (usually algebra, geometry, and advanced algebra), three years of science, three years of history and social sciences, and two years of foreign language. These standards are very much aligned with the Michigan Merit Curriculum. While many schools will accept students who do not meet this standard many others want an even more rigorous college preparatory background. While our ninth and tenth 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 spring of the student’s sophomore year we will give all students the PLAN tests. The PLAN is a preparatory test for the ACT and is a useful career interest inventory. Students in grade ten may also take the PSAT though our students traditionally take the PSAT as juniors, if at all. The PSAT/NMSQT is a pre-SAT test and can qualify very academically talented students for scholarship money. In April of a student’s junior year the ACT test will be given to all juniors as part of the MME test. If a student is not satisfied with his or her scores, this test may be retaken in June, September, October, and December. Some very selective schools will require one or more SAT II tests. These tests cover material in a specific subject.
So, your child has taken the right classes, built an extra-curricular resume, and taken all the tests. Now what? The 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 give
us 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 is a wonderful resource for virtual tours of most colleges, search engines for college selections, and financial aid information. Here are a few links that I encourage you to investigate: