2017 September College Readiness Tips
Welcome back to school. Now more than ever, we need to help counselors and schools prepare our students for college. Join our group of counselors, high school teachers, and others committed to college access with these 10 September College Readiness tips.
1. Encourage under-represented high seniors to apply for free trips to colleges this fall. Now is the time for diverse high school seniors to visit many colleges for free. Deadlines ar
e now through October for vis
its to more than 65 four-year colleges. Undocumented students can also apply to many of the colleges—This list is greatly expanded from last year. http://getmetocollege.org/what-colleges-look-for/2017-fall-diversity-visit-programs.
2. Arrange campus tours and invite colleges and/or alumni to visit you. All colleges host open houses and special events this fall. Visit a campus with
your students. Send them to visit some campuses on their own. They can visit classes, spend nights in the dorms, interview, meet professors, and more. Local private colleges will expect students to visit sometime before applying. Many colleges have reps visiting your area this fall. Many are booked already but call and see if they can come or send an alum to visit. Also contact local college students to come and visit your classes. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving as that may be too late for students to pick new colleges to consider.
3. Offer Financial Workshops Now. Remember, the FAFSA now opens October 1 and uses PRIOR-PRIOR tax years. So for the class of 2018, the FAFSA will use 2016 taxes. Colleges offer earlier financial aid deadlines so encourage students and families to fill out FAFSA early so they can get financial aid offers at the same time as acceptances.
4. Sign up for fall tests. Make sure kids take the PSAT this October. It’s a great diagnostic and counts for National Merit. Seniors should take fall tests at least twice this fall. Remember, fee waivers works twice for each test. Very few schools now require SAT Subject Tests so check, but students applying to top colleges should take them this fall, including the listening version of foreign language exams in November. ALSO KIDS MUST HAVE HEADSHOTS TO REGISTER. Kids need to upload a picture. Make sure to help them do this. There is no longer a January SAT as the College Board replaced it with its new August test date.
SAT/SAT Subject Tests (http://professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/sat-reasoning/register/test-dates)
ACT Tests (http://www.actstudent.org/regist/dates.html). Note the ACT will offer a July test date.
5. Have seniors complete brag sheets. You will have to write many letters of recommendation, and colleges want very detailed ones that describe leadership and initiative, so have students complete a brag sheet for you. Have students write examples of their favorite assignments, papers, projects, and class moments. Have them attach copies of best papers and projects. PLEASE DON’T LIMIT THE NUMBER YOU’LL WRITE FOR TALENTED STUDENTS. WORK WITH OTHER TEACHERS TO EVEN OUT RECOMMENDATIONS.
6. Have students start working on college application essays. Embed application essay writing into your homework or teaching curricula. These essays make for great autobiographical assignments. Bring in guest speakers to help push great essays. Let me know if you want more tips.
7. Encourage students to research private colleges. Please have students apply to at least four public and four private colleges. It would be great if your California students would apply to four UCs, four Cal States, and four privates. The UCS and Cal States provide fee waivers for four campuses. Privates often cover more than public universities for top diverse students. College Greenlight, http://www.collegegreenlight.com/ has a great free site to direct under-represented students to colleges who seek them. It provides them with all resources and school based scholarships.
9. Encourage students to research scholarships. Some major scholarships are already online and students can start working on then now. California Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard maintains a great scholarship resource. https://roybal-allard.house.gov/issues/issue/?IssueID=42779. Maldef maintains a comprehensive list of scholarships and mentions whether undocumented students can apply to each. http://maldef.org/leadership/scholarships/
10. Make a college corner in your classroom. Put up a college board of your own college years.Post pictures, a copy of your diploma, and some memorabilia. Contact your college to send you free stuff.
Focus on different colleges each week or two to three days. Unigo.com features colleges all the time.
The I’m First guide focuses on colleges that welcome diverse students. The Cal States and UCs will send you free materials.