11th Grade Checklist
At the Thu, Oct 11 PA meeting, Ms. McKinnon from the College Office discussed steps that 11th graders should take this year to prepare for the college application process in 12th grade. Below are the PA's notes from the meeting.
First, check out the College Office's 11th Grade Action Plan timeline and other materials in the "I am a ... Junior" section.
When starting to form a college list, look at the requirements that colleges have for specific programs. For example, engineering programs might require that applications take AP Calculus in 12th grade if offered by their high school.
Plan to take at least two SAT Subject Tests by the end of 11th grade. [See the PA's unofficial thoughts on SAT Subject Tests.]
Save a few of your student's best papers from English or Social Studies, including the teacher's comments. Some colleges ask for a graded writing sample.
To figure out how competitive your student might be in applying to a college, look at the college's "admitted students profile" to see various metrics around the college's student body, typically including SAT/ACT score ranges. You can often find this profile on the college's "Admissions" or "Apply" page, or just Google "[name of college] admitted students profile." You can also look at Naviance data to see how your student compares to past Tech students who have applied. However, some data in Naviance is self-reported, so it may be inaccurate or incomplete. [See the PA's Unofficial Guide to Naviance.]
Students should be doing some sort of extracurricular activities, i.e. something outside of class. Extracurricular activities aren't just teams and clubs. Family responsibilities and work are also viewed favorably by colleges.
Students should start thinking about potential answers to standard essay questions. To get you started, Johns Hopkins has some examples of "Essays that Worked." The Common App essay questions are fairly standard, and sometimes unchanged from the previous year.
Students should thinking about teachers from whom they might want to request a letter of recommendation. Consider asking one humanities teacher and one math/science/engineering teacher. Some schools also allow a third recommendation from a coach, religious leader, club advisor, employer etc.
Consider starting college visits now. There are many colleges in and around the NYC area that are easily accessible by public transportation. Many colleges consider a student's demonstrated interest. If you apply to a school in the NYC area and haven't visited, the school may not think you're a serious applicant.
Consider colleges that Tech students don't commonly apply to, to avoid "saturation." You can get ideas from the Fiske Guide or the Princeton Review guide. Naviance has a college search function and also tells you how many Tech students have applied in recent years. Lists like "Colleges that Change Lives" can also provide ideas. Yout student can also discuss with her guidance counselor.
Start looking at scholarships. Check out the College Office's scholarships page. Also check out the "Financial Aid and Scholarships" section of the PA's Parent Guide for scholarship materials from presenters at past workshops and PA meetings.
When it comes time to submit applications next year, remember that many schools permit self-reporting of standardized test scores and only ask for an official score report when students decide to attend. So you might be able to save some money by not ordering score reports for every school. Check each school's requirements.