Planning for College

Planning for college can seem like an overwhelming process. By paying attention to deadlines, and making steady, incremental process throughout high school, the process becomes both more manageable and effective. Below are key steps students and their families can take each year.

Freshman Year

Freshman year is a time for exploration. Students should seek appropriate courses, balancing academic rigor with extra curricular interests. In 9th grade, required courses will fill most, if not all, of a freshman's schedule. Beyond the classroom, it is a good time for students to sample a wide variety of activities with an eye toward finding an interest or interests to pursue throughout the high school years.

Sophomore Year

Now is the time to make a preliminary plan of courses through the senior year to position oneself for advanced courses in areas of interest. Continue to seek involvement in activities within the school community or beyond. Develop areas of passion.

In October, we will offer a practice PSAT test to help you get ready for the junior year PSAT/NMSQT. The PSAT measures skills in three content areas (verbal, writing, mathematics). Neither PSAT will be part of your permanent Nichols record, but the junior year PSAT is the qualifying test for National Merit Scholarships.

In the winter, start thinking about how you want to use your summer. You may want to volunteer with a local charity, attend a sports program or camp, or explore pre-college summer programs, which are offered at many colleges and universities. (There is information outside the dean's office or talk to a college counselor). Sophomore grades count so keep up with your courses!

Junior Year

Create a program for both this year and next year. Continue to seek demanding courses, but be careful to balance Honors/AP courses with other academic requirements and extracurricular interests. Although many students will have completed the three year requirement for languages, many colleges encourage additional language study. Please check with the College Office and the Foreign Language department for advice.

Find time to deepen extracurricular interests and seek leadership positions. The quality of involvement is far more important than the breadth of participation.

Senior Year

Senior year is an excellent opportunity to focus on areas of strength. Nevertheless, be certain there is a balance in your program between humanities courses and the math/science offerings. And remember: the college process is demanding, and requires as much time as another course, so don't overload your schedule. Double check to make certain all graduation requirements are being met, including fine arts requirements and athletic requirements.

You, hopefully, will have demonstrated leadership and growth in a core set of extracurricular activities. There's still time to get involved in activities that interest you, but don't make any "last-ditch" efforts just for show. Deadlines for the submission of college-related materials -- including financial aid -- are important and must be met. Be sure to enter important dates into a planner to help you remember them.

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