FALL SEMESTER, JUNIOR YEAR:
- 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 Naviance 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: 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.act.org
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: Juniors in Hillsborough County are offered the opportunity to take the SAT test during the school day in school in the March or April 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.
- 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) create a resume on Naviance or other program and the IB Student Brag Sheet.
- 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, send them a copy of your resume 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.
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. Cappex 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 900 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.
- SUMMER TO-DO LIST ITEM 4: Learn about the “Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success” college application: This is a another wa to apply to numerous colleges. 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.