FALL SEMESTER, JUNIOR YEAR:
- Look at the Hillsborough County Public School’s “Precollege Checklist for Junior Students” for ideas. It can be found on their website under the tab “Departments” and then the link “Guidance”.
- Look at the website for the new way of applying to University of Florida and approximately 50 other universities: http://www.coalitionforcollegeaccess.org/why.html. This application is called the Coalition for College Access and Success and it includes a “virtual locker” for you to store your achievements, a “collaboration platform” and an “application portal”.
- Prepare for the PSAT: Junior year is the year your scores are used to qualify for National Merit Scholarship programs. Learn more about preparing for the PSAT on the College Board website. Learn more about National Merit Scholarship programs.
- Attend College Information Sessions at Robinson through Guidance: Check your Edsby account for the list of colleges that have admissions representatives that are visiting. You have to sign up in the guidance office and meet the minimum GPA level in order to receive a pass from Mrs. Wright, your College and Career Counselor.
- Explore College Websites: Just to learn more about the college application process, log onto the websites of some colleges you might be interested in attending and read through their application processes.
- Attend a College Night: These are held usually during the final week of September at several public high schools in the Tampa area.
- Take the PSAT: The PSAT is usually given in school on a Wednesday morning in mid-October.
- Attend College Information Sessions at Robinson: Find out about these through your Edsby account. September, October, and November are the months that most college representatives visit Robinson.
- Attend a Spanish-speaking meeting about college (PASOS), if appropriate.
- Investigate Scholarships: Continue to explore scholarship opportunities through the Bright Futures program at www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org and other websites that are listed on Hillsborough County Public Schools’ website: www.scholarships.com, www.fastweb.com, and other federal and local websites with information www.studentaid.ed.gov, www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/portals/students.asp.
- Sign up for SAT/ACT tests: SATs are offered on October 1, November 5, December 3, January 21, March 11, May 6, and June 3. A free SAT is offered to all Hillsborough County HERE>>>>>ACTs are offered on September 10, October 22, December 10, February 11, April 8, and June 10. Most students take their first SAT/ACT in the winter or spring of their junior year, and then re-take it at least once before the end of the school year. Registration dates for the tests are usually one month before the test.
- Information about the SAT: www.collegeboard.com. You can register for the SAT on this website. It also has sample questions, listing of test centers, tips on how to prepare for the SAT, and more.
- Study for the SAT: The best way to study online for the SAT is through Khan Academy at https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/sat or study using paper-based study guides and practice test booklets.
- Information about the ACT: You can sign up at www.actstudent.org .
- Attend a District Financial Aid Night: These are held from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at six different schools across Hillsborough County from the beginning of December to the end of January.
SPRING SEMESTER, JUNIOR YEAR:
- Consider whether to apply to the Military Service Academies: Apply starting in January of your junior year. See Mrs. Wright for more information.
- Free In-School SAT test: Last year, all juniors in Hillsborough County took the SAT test in school in the beginning of March for free.
- Consider Applying to Competitive Academically-Oriented Summer Programs: Deadlines for some summer programs for juniors that are academically focused begin in January of junior year. Ask Mrs. Wright for more information about all these summer programs. Also, review the different summer opportunities listed on this website.
- Visit more College Campuses during Spring Break: Don’t forget to sign up in advance on the college websites you are interested in attending under the tab for “Visiting Campus”.
- Investigate Scholarships: Continue exploring scholarship opportunities through www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org (Bright Futures information), www.scholarships.com, www.fastweb.com, and www.studentaid.ed.gov, www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/portals/students.asp.
- Ask Teachers for Letters of Recommendation: Approach one or two of your teachers to write you a letter of recommendation for college. Choose teachers in classes in which you have done well. When you ask them to consider writing you a recommendation letter, make sure you bring a completed Recommendation Sheet or resume to share information about your life outside of school, your accomplishments, and your goals for yourself in the future (if known).
- Tips on getting a great letter of recommendation from your teacher(s):
- Before you ask your teacher(s) to write a letter, check the websites of colleges you will be applying to. Some schools ask for letters of recommendation from an academic teacher – sometimes in a specific subject. Others don’t specify. Some colleges don’t require any letters of recommendation.
- Choose a teacher from junior year or a teacher who has known you for a while, especially if he/she has known you outside of the classroom. The most important factor is that you choose a teacher who can be enthusiastic about writing a letter for you.
- Before you ask the teacher(s), fill out the Student Activity Resume (SAR) on pages 10-11 of the blue Junior Handbook. .
- Before school lets out for the summer, talk to the teacher(s) you have identified. First, ask if they would consider writing you a letter of recommendation. If so, hand them a copy of the SAR and the Recommendation Request Form so they will have more information with which to write the letter.
- After they have written the letter(s), send them a hand-written thank you card.
- Sign up for SAT Subject Tests if your colleges recommend/require them: SAT Subject Tests are one-hour long, multiple-choice tests administered by the College Board to measure your knowledge in particular subject areas. Florida public universities don’t require them, but many selective private colleges require/recommend that you submit two SAT Subject Tests. SAT Subject tests are offered in October, November, December, January, May, and June in 20 subjects. Check the websites of the colleges you will be applying to in order to determine if you should take 2 or more SAT Subject tests.
SUMMER AFTER JUNIOR YEAR:
- SUMMER TO-DO LIST ITEM 1: Explore colleges you might be interested in attending. You can do this online or schedule on-campus visits to colleges to narrow down your choices to a good balance of “likely – target – reach” colleges. Many students like to choose 1 to 3 likely schools (where your GPA and SAT/ACT are on the high end of a recently admitted freshman class), 2 to 4 target schools (where your numbers put you in the middle range of admitted freshmen), and 1 to 3 reach schools (where your GPA/test scores place you on the lower end of previously admitted students).
- Good college search tools: College Board: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/college-search; College Navigator by the US Dept. of Education: http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/; ACT: actstudent.org; and many others. For example, www.cappex.com allows you to determine your chances of admission based on GPA and scores, and http://www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings/best-colleges provides rankings of colleges based on variables like “best campus food” and “best athletic facilities”. Of course, the most commonly cited list of rankings is at http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities/data
- SUMMER TO-DO LIST ITEM 2: Narrow down your list of colleges: Think about your fit with each college in four different ways – 1) Physical fit – in Florida or out of state, distance from home, urban vs. rural, climate, campus size; 2) Academic fit – selectivity, majors and specialties, class size, research and internships, graduation rates, career placement; 3) Social fit – campus life, athletics, organizations and clubs, diversity; and 4) Financial fit – go to each college’s website to access their net price calculator, expected cost of attendance, and scholarships.
- SUMMER TO-DO LIST ITEM 3: Write a rough draft of your Common App essay: The prompts for the Common App essays are listed below. Summer is a good time to look at the Common App website at https://www.commonapp.org. You can start an account now although the Common App doesn’t officially open until August 1. Review all the great resources on this website, including the grid that lists the application deadlines and requirements for the over 600 colleges that accept the Common App. You can start applying to these colleges when the Common App opens up their website for applications on August 1.
2016-17 Common Application Essay Prompts
There were no changes to the prompts since last year. Here they are:
1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
- SUMMER TO-DO LIST ITEM 4: Learn about the new “Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success” college application: This is a new way to apply to over 80 colleges, including the University of Florida. Follow this link to the Coalition home page and make sure you read their FAQs: http://www.coalitionforcollegeaccess.org/
- SUMMER TO-DO LIST ITEM 5: Learn about how to apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships: Follow this link to a great explanation of the steps you’ll need to take to apply: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college. Learn the difference between need-based vs. merit-based aid. You will need to complete a FAFSA in order to qualify for Pell Grants, work-study, loans, etc. You will apply for need-based financial aid starting on October 1 of your senior year at fafsa.ed.gov.