Getting started on the right foot
A new school year, a new beginning. Everybody gets a clean slate to start the school year which provides opportunities to develop healthy habits and organizational structure. While each year in high school has its own level of importance, the junior and senior years have a little more sway when it comes to application reviews. Ninth graders are learning the ropes of high school and have some latitude with their academic performances. Tenth graders also seem to have a little more flexibility as a potential sophomore slump or overconfidence can occur.
However, the junior year really shows colleges what they can expect from a student academically as well as socially. As students have more freedom to take the courses they are more interested in during their junior year, their passions become a little more evident.
The senior year will accentuate what has been established over the last three years of high school. If the first three years of high school aren’t up to a student’s standards, then it is quite important to show a significant difference in grades earned. If the first three years were appropriate for the student’s aptitude and goals, then it is also important to continue that trend to further demonstrate academic maturity.
Creating new habits and structure
- Calendaring: One recommendation is to mindfully plan out each week. As simple as it sounds, the act of writing down all assignments, responsibilities, practices, meetings, etc. on a calendar promotes accountability and structure. We often see students become overwhelmed by all of these things bouncing around in their heads during the school year. They sometimes become paralyzed and don’t know where to start. By writing down what they need to do and when, they are able to visualize a way to stay on top of their obligations.
- Limit scrolling: It is easy to say that kids nowadays spend too much time scrolling and screening. The same can also be said for many adults. It is safe to say that adults see other adults scrolling during business meetings, or at a stop sign, or at the kitchen table. Instead of throwing shade at teenagers, adults can model limiting screening and scrolling. So much time is wasted by mindless eye candy. Yes, goldendoodle puppies tumbling over each other is cute, but there are probably better ways to spend our time.
- Set a specific day: It is also easy to keep a running narrative of reminders to our children just to help them stay on track. “Did you do your homework today?” “Did you feed the dogs?” “Did you finish your chores?” “Have you contacted your employer/coach/mentor/etc.?” “Have you determined which colleges you are going to apply to?” “What’s going to be your major?” “What do you want to do for a career?” After hearing these questions a few hundred times, there’s a good chance that your child will either tune you out or give you the answer you want to hear–not the real answer. So, set up parameters for topics. For instance, make a family rule that college talk (applications, majors, etc.) can only occur on Sundays. By setting a specific day aside for these potential contentious conversations, there are six other days of less stressful conversations. On the more positive side, setting aside one specific day for these possible transformational conversations, your child may come to the conversation openly and willingly.
Securing letters of recommendation
Students were tasked in the spring to personally ask two teachers from their junior year to write letters of recommendation. If the student was not able to complete this responsibility for whatever reason, it is imperative to do so now. Teachers have until October 1 to upload their recommendation letters in Naviance.
Brief recap of last year
- Most matriculated colleges:
- U of M Twin Cities (17)
- St. Thomas (16)
- St. John’s/St. Ben’s (10)
- UW-Madison (5)
- UM-Duluth (5)
- Type of Institution
- 2 year public (9)
- 4 year private (63)
- 4 year public (68)
- In state (65)
- Out of state (78)
- August 8: Individual college counseling meetings begin. Contact your counselor to schedule.
- August 28 at 5:00 p.m.: Senior student and parent college counseling meeting
- August 31 at 7:00 p.m.: Senior student and parent college counseling meeting
- October 1: FAFSA is available online to complete.
- October 31: All applications should be completed.
Through our collective years of experience and from all of our conversations with high school students and alums, a constant refrain we hear is that seniors should be as actively involved in and out of school as much as possible during their senior year. Join clubs, play sports, try something new, and hang out with friends. The last year of high school flies by–soak in every day and enjoy the ride.