Hold on seniors, it's NOT over yet!
You are probably counting down the hours to the grand procession of one of the most celebrated events of your life. You've participated in many senior festivities; such as, your senior breakfast, banquet, prom, and maybe you even took advantage of "senior skip day." Early May is the month when seniors get a little crazy and decide to toot horns and light up the sky with firework; but hold on, not yet.
You are probably thinking, "Why not?" Sorry to take the air out of your balloon, but you are not a high school graduate until you receive the document known as the high school diploma. The diploma certifies that you have met the graduation requirements established by your state department of education, school district, and/or education council.
If you are not careful, several minor or careless mistakes could affect the outcome of your highly anticipated day. Not only will you be disappointed but so will your parents, and you could also receive an unfortunate letter from the college of your choice. If your grades drop, your matriculation plans for August/September could change.
Be wise during the final weeks of school and heed this advice. Continue to be a student until your exams are over and your class officially ends. Devote serious effort to exam preparation and performance, especially if your final quarter grades are low.
Use all available resources for academic help and keep open communication with your teachers. They need to see you in class every day. Show concern about your grades and let them observe conscientious effort.
Be an advocate and confirm with your counselor that you are on track for graduation. Verify that you have earned, or will earn, all necessary credits, passed all required assessments, completed community service hours, and fulfilled everything mandated for your diploma.
This is not the time for funny antics, immature behavior, and poor judgment. I've known seniors who could not participate in the graduation ceremony due to inappropriate behavior immediately before the event, detention obligations, and other careless mistakes. The students had to pick up their diploma, after graduation, from the registrar. Sad, but true.
Do not jeopardize your college plans with indiscretions. When you are admitted to college, it is a conditional acceptance until they receive your final transcript. They will review the transcript to confirm you graduated and they will check your second semester performance. The college of your choice wants to be sure you have remained engaged in your studies from the time you applied for admission continuing until graduation. Many will also view poor attendance and detentions/suspensions during second semester as negative behavior, or attributes undesirable for a prospective college freshman.
Many seniors ask, "Do colleges really rescind decisions?" And the answer is, yes, they do. I've had students who not only had admissions decisions rescinded, but they also had scholarships withdrawn, due to a decline in second semester performance.
Be aware that many colleges are announcing a larger than normal yield for their next freshman class; therefore, expecting a "healthy" college matriculation for August/September. If this prediction is true, some colleges can afford to be "picky" if they don't like what they see on your final transcript.
And lastly, senioritis, is this a real disease? Beware of this "senior itch" that is not a true medical diagnosis. It can be a negative temptation that might present unfortunate consequences for the end of your senior year. Just remember, you have worked too hard to get a dismissive attitude so remain a student until the very end, then celebrate your high school graduation.
Marjorie A. Goode, Educational Consultant, Start Early: College & Career Planning Service (April 2015)
Looking Forward to Senior Year
As a second semester junior, there are many exciting events leading up to the senior year. One that can be somewhat emotional for juniors is the anticipation of your final high school course registration.
How important is it and how rigorous should you plan your senior schedule?
As always expected, colleges want you to challenge yourself with a schedule that can demonstrate your proficiency and potential for a college education.
Does this mean that every class on your senior schedule needs to be an academic one at the honors/advanced or AP level? No, it does not. Some high schools restrict the number of advanced classes a student can take, per day, and some schools have very strict policies on schedule change requests, once school begins.
Remember also that college applications can take time to complete, and you want to produce quality work for the admissions committee. If you plan to declare a major, consider a course or two that will allow you to "preview" it in high school.
Other options could include pursuing an internship or a program, even if at a different school, that will enable you to gain insight into a career interest. However, when pursuing alternative programs, such as internships and non-traditional options, it's wise to consult with your college(s) of choice to see if they will honor these courses when they review your transcript. Some students elect to take courses at a local community college, also known as dual enrollment, to broaden their exposure to courses that might enhance their postsecondary goals.
Marjorie A. Goode, Educational Consultant, "HundredsofHeads," (May 2008)
Do You Know Your Counselor?
This is a question I frequently pose to students when I conduct college planning programs at my school, and it's one of the questions I pose to new clients in my practice. As a school counselor for twenty-six years, one of my priorities has always been to see my counselees regularly (3-4 times) each year. Is it easy? Absolutely not, so I count on them to help. I tell them to schedule an appointment to see me if time has lapsed over two months since our last meeting.
Suppose your counselor hasn't met you. Then schedule an appointment to introduce or "re-introduce" yourself to him/her. Simply say, "It's been a while since we've chatted and I'd like to update you on what I've been doing." Another approach is, "I've been thinking about colleges and careers and I'd like to talk to you about it."
It's easier for us to write letters of recommendation when we know more about you than just your GPA and test scores. Colleges will find this information on your school secondary report, so help us share information about you that will not be redundant, but impressive.
Marjorie A. Goode, Educational Consultant, "HundredsofHeads," (April 2008)
Washington Parent Magazine
The Path to College
Putting It Into Perspective
by By Marjorie A. Goode, M.Ed.
What's one of the hottest topics in the media today? What's causing anxiety among families? One of the greatest pressures facing a family is the uncertainty about their children's post-secondary education. Will my child get accepted into a college? Why are the admission requirements so tough compared to five or ten years ago? What do the terms "Early Decision," "Early Action," "Regular" and "Rolling" admission really mean, and how will they affect whether my child will be admitted? What sacrifices must my child make in order to get accepted to college? Why is there so much stress with the college application process?
First, keep this whole process in proper perspective. One suggestion is to remember that your middle school and high school children are just that children and adolescents, not adults. As you try to mold them to your way of thinking, remember that they will need guidance, just as parents do. They are also still living emotionally and philosophically as adolescents and, therefore, developmentally, their needs must still be nurtured.
Listed below are recommendations I have offered to students and parents and to my clients in grades 7 to 12 as a high school counselor of 25 years and an educational consultant:
Focus on your child and don't worry about what the others are doing. Every person is unique, even within your family. Be careful not to compare the achievements or setbacks of siblings.
Encourage your child to have a positive attitude and develop high, but realistic,
One criterion for admission that is consistently a priority among all colleges is the level of the courses pursued in high school. They want to see that a student has been challenged for her ability level. Obviously, this means that not everyone will be taking three to seven honors and AP classes per semester. For some students, taking one honors or AP class will be rigorous enough. Also, there are students who are challenged with the regular/nonhonors college preparatory courses offered at their school. However, that doesn't mean that the student "is not college material." As students research colleges, it is critical to review their admission requirements as they pertain to courses taken in high school, SAT (Reasoning and Subject) and ACT preferred scores, class rank, extracurricular participation, leadership and community service, summer enrichment programs, etc.
Help your child develop effective study skills, which must begin in middle school and must be elevated each year due to curriculum expectations. These skills promote excellent academic performance, and colleges do look for consistency in achievement. Most students are not aware of how their techniques affect their retention of material for short- and long-term memory.
Students' long-term retention/memory affects their performance, particularly on semester final examinations.
Encourage your daughter to explore careers, and middle school is not too early to start. There is no commitment; she is just expanding her awareness of opportunities that could be a part of her future. It can also help direct course selections. For example, a curiosity in engineering alerts a student to the necessity of a strong math foundation. She would know, before applying to college, the need to take advanced math courses in high school in order to be competitive for an engineering program.
Summer enrichment programs can also assist with career exploration, improve academic skills, acquaint students with college campuses, help an application packet appear more marketable and enrich social development. Some students discover their college majors and/or career choices by participating in summer programs, which can expose them to academic requirements, job expectations, networking opportunities with mentors already established in the occupation and other essential committal and task functions. Residential summer programs can offer teens an opportunity to develop independence and socialization skills. Both residential and commuter programs can allow students to broaden their peer base, and become introduced to a more diverse population that can be expected on most college campuses. For a high school student, it never hurts to meet a college professor in a summer program who might be willing to write a letter of recommendation on her behalf.
Encourage your child to read. It's unrealistic to assume that every child will develop a total fondness for reading. The literature interest will vary, but the most important factor is that the student appreciates reading "something." It could be a weekly sports magazine, a 400-page suspense novel, a fashion magazine or a classic from the archives that is age- and content-appropriate. Reading exposes students to words that can enhance their vocabulary. In addition to learning new words, you can encourage your child to use the words in conversation so they will be retained for easy recall. An interactive family suggestion is to build a "Word of the Day" or " Word of the Week" program to increase everyone's vocabulary. College admission tests have moved away from word definitions and analogies in reading sections, because they want to know that students are competent in comprehension and verbal analysis.
Encourage your child to become a self-advocate. Remember, you will not always be around "to fend" for her rights. Middle and high school students should know how to be assertive when seeking assistance. When I have a client, regardless of the grade, who has not met her school counselor, I encourage her to schedule an appointment with the counselor and introduce herself. This is a nonthreatening way of taking the first step toward being assertive.
Be involved in your child's course registration process at school. It shows that you care about her choices. However, remember that it is also imperative to respect her views on selections.
Both parents and children need to be familiar with the technology now available in most schools to access current academic progress. Some of the programs, such as Edline and MyGradeBook.com, are used locally. The family only needs to obtain logistical essentials, such as a password, to log on for information. Some teachers may still distribute a paper progress report. Whatever the method, students must always be knowledgeable of their current school performance.
"Stand Out From The Crowd When Applying To College"
You're probably thinking, "Why should I worry about college? It's too early." Depending on whom you are talking to, you'll probably hear different opinions about the subject. Some people may say you shouldn't be concerned about college yet, because it's still a long way off for you.
Why should you plan now? Because of the competitiveness to be admitted to some colleges, you will probably be encouraged to consider opportunities that will make you more impressive to an admissions comittee. As you gain an interest in becoming more familiar with college admission requirements, you will have to decide, for yourself, if you should consider activities that will make you "unique."
Why should you be different? It's okay to look like everyone else, but sometimes it pays to be different---different in the respect that you "stand out from the crowd." There will be some college admission requirements that wil be expected to be similar among the applicants; such as, GPAs and test scores. However, there will be times when your uniqueness may be the factor to get you accepted.
What are your options? Participation in extracurricular activities can be a bonus with some colleges; especially, if you have engaged in leadership and community service roles. Summer enrichment programs are excellent opportunities to be "unique."
What are the benefits to you? First of all, it sends a message to a college that you enhanced your summer vacation with a stimulating program, either one week or more, rather than having spent it all on the beach or as a couch potato. It's also a great way to meet other students, become more proficient in your academics, explore careers, get exposed to a college campus, expand your interests, and possibly improve your chances to be admitted to the college of your choice.
Marjorie Goode, Educational Consultant, "Prep Talk" (Spring 2006)