I came across this article from U.S. News and World Report and decided to share. It talks about two things high school sophomores can begin doing now to prepare for college:
- Begin building and leveraging a relationship with your high school guidance counselor
- Begin visiting college campuses (in-person or virtually)
The author relies upon the advice of three current college students to get to the bottom of it. To read, jump to the bottom!
Letters of Recommendation
As a former college application reader and reviewer, I read a TON of completed college applications - applications, letters of recommendations, essays, transcripts and optional freedom of expression additions. One thing that stood out to me for each applicant was the recommendation letter from counselors and teachers.
It was easy to tell the authors who knew applicants closely and alternatively, those who didn't know the student at all or had limited interactions with students.
When you know your recommender (teacher or counselor) they're able to speak confidently to your qualities and characteristics, not just your high school achievements. The personal connection adds an additional layer for the admission counselor reading the letter because remember, anyone can read your resume to learn about your accomplishments, but colleges and universities are curious about your personality and qualitative insights.
Be sure to meet your counselor early on in your high school career and engage your teachers so they know who you are and are able to write a convincing recommendation letter for you when the time comes. Read: participate in class!
Touring College Campuses
Campus visits are one of the many ways students demonstrate their interests in a college. Demonstrated interest also comes in the form of social media engagement, participating in orientation days, sitting in on classes, connecting with current students and counselors, participating in virtual events hosted by the college and even visits to the website.
There are plenty of options to engage with a college during a campus visit so before you go, create a campus visit plan and come up with questions to ask.
Visiting a college is exciting and can also be overwhelming - so much to do and see! Ultimately, a college visit will help you evaluate the school to ensure its fit for you. There are five main areas of college fit to consider during your next visit:
Taking note of these areas for each college you visit can help you take stock of and compare your feelings about each campus. Some of these categories may not apply to you, and that's OK, but it's wise to continue to consider them.
On your visits, be sure to take notes, ask questions and talk to current students (if possible!)
Take a look at The College Visit Journal: Campus Visits Demystified for your campus visit checklists and campus visit questions for your next visit.
Happy reading and happy planning!