College often seems like a far-away goal for many high school students and their parents. But, it is not too early to be taking wise actions to position yourself for that all important senior year and the college selection process. What can an underclassman be doing now to prepare for what God may have planned for him or her later?
During 9th and 10th grades:
- Choose class electives carefully. Meet with Student Services to discuss your schedule of classes for each year and to identify electives in line with your interests. Plan to challenge yourself and develop good study skills. Grades do matter! The grades for credited classes that you earn in 8th or 9th grade will be included on your official high school transcript and will be calculated into your grade point average.
- Participate in extra-curricular activities inside and outside of school.
- Complete at least 24 hours of community service. Remember that this is a graduation requirement and must be completed each year. The more hours you complete the better because we are called to serve others, it helps you to determine your interests, and it is a positive reflection of you for colleges and scholarship organizations.
- Begin keeping a list of your awards, honors, paid or volunteer work, and extra-curricular activities to prepare an educational resume'.
- Sophomores can plan to take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT). This is optional for 10th graders, but helps the student practice for the Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT).
- Begin or continue a savings plan for college. With your parents, attend one of the college financial planning seminars offered at various times through the year at your school.
- Start looking at colleges websites online and attend college fairs in your community to get a feel for different types of schools and what they offer.
- Pray about your future and ask God for guidance in this very important process.
During 11th grade:
- Review your academic progress with Student Services. A summary of classes taken and an audit of classes still needed is performed for you each year. Plan to take the most challenging academic schedule that you can.
- Order your class ring.
- Take the PSAT on the scheduled day in October. This is mandatory for members of the junior class as this is the year that scores are under consideration for National Merit awards.
- Study! Keep your grades up. Junior year is a critical year in achieving the highest grade point average possible.
- Continue to investigate colleges; consider the size, location, distance from home, majors offered, housing, and cost as you look.
- Continue to visit college fairs and talk to college representatives that visit your school. Ask questions! Discuss colleges that you are interested in with your parents. Plan to visit colleges of interest during Christmas or Spring break, or in the summer leading up to senior year.
- Register with the NCAA Clearinghouse if you are an athlete intending to play sports at a Division I or Division II college. You can get all the info necessary by visiting the Clearinghouse website at www.ncaa.org and click on the "Eligibility Center" button on the right.
- Take the ACT or SAT at least once. The test that you choose may be dictated by the colleges that you are interested in attending. Remember that this is a graduation requirement; be sure that your scores are sent to GCA.
- Complete your Community Service hours and add to your list of activities.
- Begin researching and applying for scholarships. Sign up for scholarship search engines such as www.fastweb.com and www.scholarships.com to find opportunities for which you qualify. Student Services also posts scholarships and deadlines, and often will make you aware of particular scholarships for which you are a good candidate.
- Prepare your educational resume by listing all of your activities, awards, work and volunteer activities. This may be done in English 11 as a part of your writing assignments, but go ahead and prepare to show your accomplishments to prospective schools or coaches.
- Attend the College Planning and Selection Seminar offered in the spring of the school year aimed at juniors and their parents. (Date to be announced-watch the calendar!)
- Continue to pray about the process.
- Consult the "How to be a Senior" article on this site to get ready for your last year of high school. Don't forget to enjoy your family and friends at this special time!