If you are a high school student right now, parents and teachers might already be talking to you about college, even if you’re only a freshman. It can make you wonder if you should already get started on the college application process somehow. If you relate to this and are wondering where you should be in the college application process, let us help you out.
First of all, unless you’ve missed important deadlines, know that it’s never too late to apply for college. You may have to alter your list, or wait to apply until next year, but it’s never too late to go. Still, you can help yourself out a lot by taking some simple steps before you even reach the application phase.
The most important thing you can do your freshman year is to give yourself a good head start. This matters most when it comes to your grades and your extracurriculars. It’s much easier to maintain a good GPA than it is to raise one. Starting off right will serve you well down the road.
You will also want to start joining extracurriculars or volunteer work now. College admissions offices are more impressed with students who have put in the time and dedication to their activities. Starting now and continuing these activities throughout high school will demonstrate such dedication.
By now, hopefully you’ve established some good grades, good activities, and good habits to maintain both. You may be developing interests in certain career paths, and now is a good time to explore them. It’s also a good time to form closer relationships with your teachers, thinking ahead to college recommendation letters.
You may also want to start looking for pre-college programs, or start considering colleges in general. The more time you give yourself to think about where you might want to go, the easier it’ll be to narrow down your list later on.
Junior Year (first semester)
Now is the time to get serious about studying for standardized tests and selecting colleges. You can get a tutor or join a class for the tests, or start to take some practice tests on your own. If you take your first test now, you’ll have time to retake it once or twice if you don’t like your first score. Now would be a good time to meet with a college counselor as well. They can help you narrow down your list of colleges, and select the colleges you might want to visit before you apply.
Junior Year (second semester)
If you haven’t taken your standardized tests yet, do it now so you don’t have to worry about it during crunch time senior year. You will also want to tour some colleges around this time if you haven’t done so. That way, you can finalize your application list as soon as applications become available.
This is go time. By now you should have all of your materials gathered and completed such as standardized tests, transcripts, and so on. The two big things you probably won’t be able to do ahead of time are writing college essays and receiving recommendation letters from teachers. Once you complete those two things though, you should be able to send in your materials with plenty of time to spare.
If you aren’t quite at any one of these markers, don’t worry. You can catch up in a number of ways, and you may not be as behind as you think. Talk to a college counselor to see where you stand in terms of preparedness for college applications. Hopefully this has answered many of your questions though regarding where you should be in the college application process.