By: LaRae Snoddy, College Navigator and Education Consultant
As we welcome springtime, students are looking forward to spring break, summer vacation, prom, and all the fun that warm weather promises.
Yet spring is a critical time for future college students. Whether you are a high school senior sifting through college acceptances and financial aid award letters or a high school freshman considering summer programs or first time job opportunities. Spring is much more than a layover to summer. It is the time to plan and start implementing your college goals. What can you do to make sure that your spring gets you closer to college?
Start reflecting on your high school experiences.
Are you a Freshman? Sophomore? Junior? Senior? Depending on where you are in your educational career, you are likely involved in something. Any experience in/outside of school is an important step on your journey to college. Spring is a good time to reflect on these experiences and ask yourself how they are connecting you to your future goals.
9th grade Reflection:
- What classes did I most enjoy?
- What are my successes so far?
- Is there a class/teacher that inspired me?
- What careers interest me?
- Does my parent/guardian know my future goals?
10th grade Reflection:
- What have I learned/improved since last year?
- What new experience/opportunity did I participate in this year?
- If I needed to ask for a recommendation from a teacher who would I ask?
- What colleges/majors do I know?
- What do I value?
- Who would I like to be?
11th grade Reflection:
- Where do I see myself in the next couple of years?
- What is my GPA/Test Scores?
- What do I need to achieve my college goals?
- How would I answer the question “Who am I”?
- How have I changed/grown since my freshman year?
- Who can I ask for help to achieve my goals?
12th grade Reflection:
- What colleges have accepted me?
- Which university offers my program of interest?
- Have I received my financial aid award letter?
- Have I discussed my plans with a parent/guardian?
- What is my back up plan?
- Do I have everything I need to go?
- Are there financial (or other gaps)? –How am I filling them?
Make the connection between what you are doing and how it relates to your future goals.
Once you have reflected on your year and experiences you might start to see a pattern. Did you spend all of your time competing with the robotics club…performing for band… practicing a sport…working a part time job…or doing nothing at all? Are you a senior with all of your college plans set… or does everything feel up in the air? It is important to remember that your journey to college is unique. Can you see a connection between your current experiences and future success? That connection does not have to be a clear line. Sometimes it is curved, jagged, or disconnected. It is ok to have to regroup or realize that you have gone astray. However, finding the connection can help you to determine your path.
Whatever you decide to do, know that there is a process, requirement, and procedure. Achieving your college goals will require that you have a good understanding of all three combined with your involvement and achievements.
Plan ahead to reach your college goals
Deadlines are a part of the college process and are equally important to consider when looking for internship, summer opportunities, scholarships, etc.—throughout high school. Often students miss great opportunities because they fail to plan ahead. Do you have a dream school? Have you looked at their website lately? Do they offer summer program opportunities? What is the deadline? What is the cost? Do you aspire to become an entrepreneur, engineer, doctor, lawyer, or even a movie producer? You can gain experience in high school through a variety of summer programs and internships. In addition, many organizations offer scholarships in the spring for students from 7th– 12th grade.
Spring is here! What are your summer plans?
What resources and opportunities are you aware of that might help you achieve your goals? Consider:
- Volunteer Opportunities
- Summer programs (college, community, private)
- Summer Employment
- Summer School
- Research Project
- Summer Reading (many colleges have a freshman reading list…no matter grade you are in now, you can get a head start).
- Travel (even family vacations can build perspective)
- SAT/ACT Prep classes
Have fun… and prepare for the work ahead.
Spring is about renewal. It is a chance to restart, recharge, and reclaim yourself. Life is not all work and neither is the journey to college. So have fun. Take risks (safely), and seek opportunities to stretch yourself—to grow. However, balance this fun with priorities. What are yours? Make a list!
My Summer Priorities:
- College (prep)
Go further! Set your priorities for next year!
Remember, spring means new beginnings. No matter where you are on your journey to college, it is important to take stock of your destination and to celebrate how far you’ve come. Waiting until the last minute means missed opportunities, so practice thinking and planning ahead. Lastly, don’t be afraid to seek fun, interesting, and challenging experiences—if nothing else you’ll get plenty of material for those personal and scholarship essays!
LaRae Snoddy, M.A., is a former first generation college student who has dedicated her work over the past 13 years to assisting others in achieving their higher education goals. Some of her former students are currently attending or graduates of schools such as Dartmouth, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, DePauw, St. Johns University, Howard, Radford, University of Buffalo, University of Illinois, and Old Dominion University –just to name a few. She truly believes that college can be an amazing and life changing experience and that every student deserves a strong and knowledgeable guide to help them navigation options. LaRae is a graduate of Lawrence University (BA in Philosophy & Spanish) and Edgewood College (MA in Education). LaRae is a College Navigator & Education Consultant for My College Navigation Hub. Schedule a free consultation to learn how she works with students and their families.
Areas of Specialty: 1st Generation Students, Early College Planning, Low-income Students, Selective Schools, Private Schools, College Search and Application, Scholarships