Juniors! Believe it or not…
…it is time to start planning for college admissions! Many of you have spent the better part of the last year out of the actual classroom, you have not been able to participate in your normal activities and sports, you have not been able to do standardized testing… so how do you get started in the age of a pandemic? Well, the process is all pretty much the same, but you may have to be a bit more creative with your approach.
The first thing you will need to start thinking about is your standardized testing schedule. For the 2021-22 application season, most schools eliminated the testing requirement; however, at this point, colleges have not all made their determinations for the 2022-23 school year, so it is best to be prepared.
As of this writing, the SAT and the ACT are both offered this spring at different schools around the island, so make sure to register for the one that seems to fit you best. You will likely want to take the test of your choosing at least twice, so start now on your schedule plan. If you do not know which one you think is more to your learning style, you should take one of each, see where your strength lies and move forward with that one. With limited activities available, your test score will be an important piece of the holistic review that schools will use to review your application.
While you have probably had a harder time building a relationship with your teachers while taking classes online, you will need to figure out which one or ones you are going to ask to write your recommendations. If you have no idea, now is the time to start thinking about that and make sure to ask the teacher before the end of the school year while you are still fresh in his or her mind. It is wise to select a teacher in one of your core subjects, like English, math, or one of your sciences.
If you know what you want to study in college, a recommendation from a teacher in that field of study would be your strongest choice.
Have you been able to have any virtual meetings with your counselor if not in person? He/she will need to provide a recommendation, too. If nothing else, make sure to check in with him/her to make sure you are on track to graduate with all the coursework that the State of Hawaii requires, and then verify that you are taking the courses that are needed for the schools you are hoping to attend.
Many more competitive schools require a much more rigorous curriculum to meet their application standards, like an extra year of math or foreign language.
Visiting college campuses in person has been out for most of this past year. Most schools will still not even allow you on campus, so your visits are going to be limited to virtual ones until schools start opening up again. This can be an advantage for Maui students, who usually are hindered by long distance from showing their demonstrated interest. It would be great to think that visits would be allowed by summer, but we cannot count on that.
Spend some time exploring schools online, and hopefully, by the time you need to decide where to attend, you will be able to physically go and visit. At the very least, think about what kind of school you want to attend, and make sure to speak to your parents about the financial realities of where you are able to go.
And finally, and most importantly, focus on your academics and finish your junior year strong. The grades that you submit on applications — especially if you are applying in any early format — that are going to be used by colleges for their decisions are going to be from this school year.
Since you cannot play your sport or do most activities, spend your time on your classwork. As always, if you have questions or wish to make an appointment, please visit my website.
Maryanne Hogan is an Independent College Admissions Consultant working with students on Maui. Visit her website, thecollegeauntie.com, for more information or to make an appointment.