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  • Michelle Silbernagel

College Planning Steps for the New Year


Notepad reading Start wher you are and coffee mug

The college journey has many steps. Get started in the right direction with these essential navigation points. Your “starting” point will be different depending on your grade.


If you are in the 9th or 10th grade:

  • Build a strong, consistent, or upward academic track record

  • Take challenging courses

  • Consider extra academic courses or summer programs that support and develop your interests

  • Visit “virtually" (or in-person if possible) the different college types (large public, small liberal arts, medium regional) to get an understanding of the choices

  • Explore your college priorities. Distinguish themust-have” from the “would be nice” college characteristics. What are the deal breakers?

  • Develop your personal story - - your resume of activities that reflect your interests and convictions

  • Look beyond the same 25 colleges you know and explore the full range of amazing college options


If you are starting your new year college planning as a junior:

  • Challenge yourself academically and achieve strong grades

  • Foster relationships with teachers...who will write your college application letter of recommendations

  • Take an extracurricular interest to the next level -- become more involved, showing initiative, and making an impact

  • Explore colleges online and visit some in-person, when possible.

  • Set aside a designated “college planning time" each week that you spend researching colleges

  • Build a SAFE college list of colleges that fit you. Colleges that match your Social Academic, Financial, and Emotional priorities

  • Plan and prepare to write your main personal statement essay during the summer before your senior begins


If you are starting the new year as a senior:

  • Stay on course. You are almost at the end of the journey. Finish the semester strong. Most colleges request mid-year grade reports, even if you have already received an admissions acceptance. Mid-year grades will be even more important at colleges that are reading and considering applications in February and March. Plus, the curriculum content you are currently learning is preparing you for academic success in college. After this year, you will want to hit the ground running!

Do you have questions about college admissions? Let's talk!

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