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College Prep

Don't let your rising senior hurt his college admission chances

Two temptations for rising seniors include taking a holiday from learning and taking a light academic load during senior year. Both of these temptations should be avoided. 

Students should stay in practice reading and writing in the summer to avoid losing skills prior to the next school year. It matters less what they read and write than that they do it regularly to retain their skill level. 

The academic load during senior year is the other error students sometimes make. They reason that colleges will make decisions on junior year grades and performance. But colleges can check grades and enrollment level during senior year and what the student is doing should match what they reported on college applications or they have hurt their own admission chances. College admission officers have reported that students who take a light load of less challenging courses as seniors are not as ready for their freshman year of college as others who continued to challenge themselves academically. Word to the wise: senior year of high school is not a victory lap.

Summer Plans Anyone?

Make sure your kids have plans for summer that include an academic activity and a volunteer activity. Although summer is a great time for rest and relaxation for families and students, it can also be a time where students lose academic skill gained during the school year. Studies show that students lose ground with reading speed and comprehension. These two skills are critical to academic success as well as college admission success. College admission test scores depend on student ability to read rapidly and comprehend what they read.

College interviews anyone?

Students who choose to participate in optional college admission interviews can add a slight positive impact to their admission application review. Much like taking the time to officially tour campus, students who participate in interviews are communicating their interest in a college.

Most colleges say that interviewing or not interviewing will not make the difference in getting in or not. However, interviewing does show interest and colleges want to admit students most likely to attend.

Students who decide to interview should be on time, dress appropriately and have a few questions prepared for their interviewer. They should avoid criticizing their school or teachers and focus on areas of the college that they feel are a great fit for them as well as what they bring to campus as individuals.

Don't Slack Off Senior Year!

Warning!!!!! Students whose academic records show less achievement as a senior are in danger of losing their admission offer and scholarship. Take a look at this warning on the Virginia Tech website:

Your offer of admission will be withdrawn under the following condition:
  • Your final grades are significantly lower than your previous academic record, indicating a declining academic performance in your final year or semester.

You might think this is a rare occurence. But actually, many colleges feel this way AND many students feel that they don't have to work as hard as a senior-especially if they have been admitted to a college already.

Why Some Don't Test Well

What does reading have to do with riding a bike?

One of the questions I ask students who say they want to improve their grades or standardized test scores is: "How much do you read for pleasure?" This question is often met with a downward glance and a mumbled: "not much". When we talk about why they are not reading, they often report that they do not enjoy reading for a variety of reasons: vocabulary, losing their place, becoming distracted or not having enough time.

I like to compare doing well in school and on tests to preparing for a bike race.