College Advice for Middle and High School Students
No matter what you dream of doing with your future, preparing yourself for your education and life after high school is important.
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You can explore careers and majors, create a plan, and search for colleges through BigFuture on College Board: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors-careers
During your senior year, you will finalize your college choice. This year is filled with admission applications, scholarship essays, financial aid information, and the need to meet deadlines. Throughout your senior year, continue to build your resume by achieving academic success, as well as participating in extra-curricular activities. Colleges are very interested in well-rounded students. The college preparation that takes place during your senior year is filled with a lot of details and paperwork. It is very important that you involve your parents with this process.
November and December Tasks
- Attend college fairs.
- If accessible, visit your top university choices.
- Complete admissions applications by their deadlines.
- If necessary, retake the SAT/ACT and English proficiency tests (TOEFL or IELTS).
- Work on your admissions essays.
- Complete applications for every scholarship for which you may be eligible.
- Explore and review financial aid options.
- Request financial aid forms and applications. Double check the deadlines for submission.
- Meet with your college advisor to develop a college admission plan.
- Make a folder for each of your college choices.
- Request letters of recommendation and follow up to ensure your teachers and college advisor send letters of recommendation.
- Finalize portfolios, writing samples, or other evidence of talent if required for admission.
Unless you have completed an early application, this is the time to work hard at completing your college essays. Proofread them rigorously for mistakes. Check out the following links: 8 Tips for Crafting Your Best College Essays (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/essays/8-tips-for-crafting-your-best-college-essay) and Tips for Writing an Effective Application Essay (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/essays/tips-for-writing-an-effective-application-essay-college-admissions).
- Follow up to ensure that letters of recommendation are sent on time to meet your deadlines.
- Send college applications as early as possible.
- Make sure your SAT/ACT, SAT/ACT Subject Tests, and/or English proficiency test (TOEFL or IELTS) scores are sent to each of your colleges.
- Have your counselor send your first semester grades to colleges. Contact your colleges and confirm that all necessary application materials have been received.
- Continue to perform well in school and don’t get “senioritis” or “senior slump”; colleges want to see strong final grades. Check out College Board Tips for Staying Motivated (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-started/inside-the-classroom/tips-for-staying-motivated).
- Read carefully any admission decisions that arrive; some may require action on your part.
- Make a final decision, and mail the enrollment form and deposit check to the college you select before the enrollment deadline.
- Notify each of the colleges that accepted you but that you will not attend of your decision, so that your spot can be freed up for another student.
- If you’re on a waiting list, contact the admission office and let them know of your continued interest in the college; update them on your spring semester grades and activities. Check out these links: No Acceptance Letters? You Still Have Options (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/making-a-decision/no-acceptance-letters-you-still-have-options) and What to Do if You’re Waitlisted (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-in/making-a-decision/what-to-do-if-youre-wait-listed).
- If you take any AP Exams, make sure your AP score report is sent to your college.
- Study hard for final exams. Most admission offers are dependent on your final grades.
PreACT Test Tips that will also help you to prepare for the ACT test
- Familiarize yourself with the format of the test. Learn the directions for each type of science, math, reading, and writing & language question.
- You don’t need to go through the questions in order. First, work through all the easy questions that you can do quickly. Skip questions that are hard or time-consuming and then go back to answering them later; don’t waste your time.
- If you don’t know the answer to a multiple-choice question, try to eliminate choices first before guessing.
- Read all the answer choices before marking your answer sheet.
- IMPORTANT: Monitor the clock as not to waste or run out of time.
- Remember, there is NO penalty for wrong answers so don’t leave any question blank.
- Take a calculator.
- You can prepare for the ACT test for free through ACT Academy:
- This link provides free practice tests:
ACT Test Information
The ACT is accepted by all colleges and universities in the United States and more than 225 other universities around the world. The test takes approximately 3 hours and 35 minutes to complete. Including a short break.
ACT consists of:
- English Test (75 items, 45 minutes)
- Mathematics Test (60 items, 60 minutes)
- Reading Test (40 items, 35 minutes)
- Science Test (40 items, 35 minutes)
- Writing Test (Optional) (1 prompt, 40 minutes)
ACT composite score ranges between 1-36, which is the average of the four test scores, not including the writing. ACT writing scores, which is optional, ranges between 2-12.
Multiple-choice test scores are released within 2-3 working days.
You can send your scores to up to four universities at no additional cost.
If you have taken the test more than once, you can select a combination of your best individual subject scores from all ACT attempts to become your Superscore. Check this link for details on How to Calculate Your ACT Superscore: https://global.act.org/content/global/en/students-and-parents/how-to-calculate-your-act-superscore.html
For information on what to expect on test day, including a checklist of last-minute reminders to review the day before the test, check this link:
Register for the ACT at this link: