,College readiness is an important topic that we can all learn about through the experiences of others who have made the transition to college. There will always be bumps in the road to college, as it is a huge life transition for any student. But some students will have more challenges than others. How each student while in college will navigate their challenges will differ depending upon their needs and circumstances. It is my hope that students while in high school will take the time to build their readiness skills, and particularly their ability to know when they need help and feel comfortable asking for help in a timely way. This skill of self-advocacy can make a big difference in the college experience. This article is a reflection from a writer who found her unique path to managing the college experience. It took her time to find the right learning environment, but when she was able to experience academic success, she was on her way. The goal is to find the right path for every student to find success in a way that is meaningful to them.
The college application process has been altered due to COVID-19, and it has been understandably confusing for students and parents to make sense of it all. One aspect to focus on in this blog is exploring what it means for a college to be test optional. At this time, the majority of colleges who have stated that they will be test optional for the class of 2021 will still be accepting test scores should students decide to submit them. There is a difference between test optional, where colleges will look at test scores that are submitted, and test blind where colleges will not look at test scores submitted. Therefore, students will need to consider their application as a whole to determine if they want test scores to be considered in the review of their application at test optional colleges.
Some aspects for students to consider include the GPA, the overall trend of the grades in high school, class rigor, letters of recommendation (for colleges that use these), activities, family circumstances, essays, etc. These are all important elements of an application, and test scores are just one piece for colleges to consider. Think through your application and how your test scores will fit into conveying to colleges who you are as a student and how you can contribute to a college campus. Each student will be different in this proces, so think about what will be best for you and your specific situation. This article speaks further on this topic.
The landscape of the college application process for juniors, as well as the process for current seniors to decide on which college to attend, has changed significantly in recent weeks due to the coronavirus. Current seniors are not able to visit colleges to help them determine their college choice, and current juniors are not able to visit colleges to help create their college lists. Juniors are also impacted by the cancellation of testing dates and both juniors and seniors in their ability to complete their junior/senior year of high school. Colleges and high school staff have been working hard to help students fill the gaps in the college process. This is a resource for connecting virtually with colleges. This is a resource to learn what each college on your list is doing to accommodate and reach out to students. These are stressful times for many. Students should know that high school and college staff are working to make the changes needed to allow students to continue their journey to college. Please remember to reach out and ask questions. There are many resources available to support this process, and we will get through this as a community.
As we move closer to spring, current juniors are making plans to visit colleges. This is a great idea as it offers the student an opportunity to learn more about each college, and the elements that are important to a student. The size of the college, location, role of Greek life, etc. are all elements to understand better through a college visit. One other aspect of visiting colleges in addition to signing up for the tours and information sessions, is to consider making an appointment with the college disability services office. Each college will differ in the level of services they offer, their staffing, and their overall approach with students and faculty. Making an appointment to visit these offices can help the student better understand what will be available for their specific needs, as well as help the student to feel comfortable with the differences between services in high school versus college. This article is helpful in outlining those differences. This article is helpful in delineating questions students can ask during their visit. It also reviews questions that the disability office might ask you, so you can be prepared. Having the right academic supports in college will be very important to the success of many students, so making this a priority as you consider colleges is a good idea.
There are many aspects of preparing for the transition to college, and one of those is ensuring you understand how to request support services from the disability office of your college. If you are receiving accommodations while in high school, it is important to understand what supports you are receiving and why. This knowledge and ability to communicate this knowledge will be very important when you go to college. This is because it will be the responsiblity of the student to work with the disability office and professors to advocate for your academic needs. To support you in advocating for your academic needs, understanding how IEP’s and 504 plans are used and not used in determining accommodations in college is important. This article offers helpful guidance on this topic. You are encouraged to take an increasingly active role in understanding your accommodations and speaking with teachers and other staff at your high school as needed, to practice advocating for your learning needs. This will help ease the transition to college and independence as you will be already comfortable in the role of self-advocate.
Being aware of college admissions and college graduation requirements is particularly important for students with learning disabilities. There are some students who do not take a foreign language in high school and still meet the graduation requirements of their high school. Yet it may still be possible for that student to be accepted at a college that has a foreign language requirement for admission. Reaching out to the admissions office of each college will help you to understand their policies for admissions. It will also be important to understand the graduation requirements regarding a foreign language from the college.
Understanding the math requirements to graduate from a college will also be important. Colleges are open to talking about these aspects of their requirements with students to ensure a good fit, and the disability office at a college will also be helpful in this process. Here is an article that speaks about this in more detail. There are many details to manage in the college application process, and developing an organizational system to help you keep track will be beneficial as the process develops throughout junior and senior years.
Many high school students engage in extracurricular activities for a variety of reasons. Some do it for the pure interest in the experience. Others participate to have something to write about in their college applications. Most have intentions that are somewhere in between. However, it might be helpful to take a look at your extracurricular activities to ensure you are engaging in things that are of interest to you. When a student really is motivated and connected with something they are doing it has a way of coming across in the writing of the student. I believe this is one of the intangible elements of what sets one student apart from another. This video from an admissions director speaks to this as well.
So take some time and think about how your are using your extracurricular experiences in high school. Are you participating in activities that are meaningful and engaging to you? You will likely enjoy the experiences more and your joy will come through in your applications.
Managing a schedule and responsibilities while in college is important for academic and social/emotional success for students. It is a skill that students should ideally begin to develop during high school, as it can take time to develop new habits. Many students will need to experiment with a variety of strategies to find what will work best for them. This article offers some great ideas of time management strategies that will be very helpful for students in college.
What can students do while in high school to start to build these skills? Create a goal for yourself such as waking up on your own for school each morning. Reach out to family members and let them know what you are working to achieve, and be open to their feedback and guidance. Seeking help from those around you and being open to new ideas are two important keys to success. Find other goals to set for yourself to build these important skills for success.
As the month of September comes to a close, the college application to-do list time-line starts to come into greater focus for many students. There are essays to write, applications to fill out, and many other tasks with high school counselors, letters of recommendation, etc. to manage. Staying organized with this process so as not to feel overwhelmed will be key to successfully completing applications. This college application checklist is really helpful for students to keep track of tasks they need to complete. It is also important to realize that there are a tremendous number of on-line resources to guide the process. For example, if you need an overview of how to complete the activities section of the Common App, this article can help. If you need guidance on completing the UC Personal Insight Questions, the UC website has great information. Don’t be hesitant to research information or reach out to a trusted counselor, parent, or friend to help you with this process.
The skill of asking for help is so very important to college success, and the college application process is a great time to practice that skill. Think about the areas where you could benefit from the guidance of another, and practice advocating for what you need. This skill will be so useful in college, as you will feel increasingly comfortable in the role of self-advocate. Remember that all the effort of applying to college is not just to get into college, but to be successful in college.
Registering for support services on a college campus may not be the most important thing that a student starting college wants to consider. Many students are excited to start college with a sense of a new beginning, and they do not want to carry forward the resources they received in high school. This is understandable as students strike out on their own. However, educating students and parents about this is very important to their successful transition to college.
The education that students and parents need to have during this critical time between high school and college involves several factors. One factor is how services are different between high school and college,and the laws governing student support is different. Another factor is educating students about the benefits of registering for support services in college. This article does a great job in delineating the reasons why a student should register with the disability office, even if they believe that it is not necessary at this time. I am hopeful that this information resonates with students and they are able to reach out for the resources that can benefit them in college.
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