Written By: Natalie Pinto, Yannely Sanchez
Dearest Juniors and Seniors,
Some of you might have already started up on your applications and are getting ahead of the curve; some of you might be so nervous going into this year not knowing where to start or even how to begin; and some of you are probably so sick of being told these are your most important years of highschool. I know, we’ve all been there. Wherever you are in the college process, here’s a couple of useful pointers to use in the next few months.
For starters, you’re at the point in the year where you’re pretty committed to your schedule. If you filled it up with AP/IB classes for the college credit, but aren’t actually going to put in the effort into studying, then you’re already starting off on the wrong foot. Studying for these classes takes a lot of time and you have to keep in mind that topics in AP/IB classes build up into the exam at the end of the year; you really can’t just take a test and forget what you learned. If you’re willing to dedicate time for these courses, and we mean dedicate, then go for it. If you’re not sure, but are willing to challenge yourself, then do it, but you have to take initiative.
In terms of testing, the first thing you should look into is the PSAT/NMSQT. The NMSQT, otherwise known as the PSAT, is a practice SAT test that can qualify you for receiving a merit scholarship, so study! If you don’t do well, it won’t affect you, so you might as well try your best. You can only take the NMSQT once, but you’re welcome to take various other PSATs.
The actual SAT/ACT exam requires you to sign up on the College Board or ACT website and has certain deadlines. Do not sign up late; you’ll have to pay extra fees, and even with the fee waiver, it gets expensive! You can choose to take the SAT or ACT, or even take both, and redo them as many times as you want. When applying to college, you choose your highest score to send in, so just study and do your best!
Recommendation letters are also really important. For these, you should ask your teachers as soon as possible and keep up to date with their progress. Keep in mind the world doesn’t revolve around you, they could have many other students asking for letters too. If you ask a week before deadlines, your teachers will rightfully obliterate you, so make sure you give them enough time.
Throughout the school year and summer vacation, you should research about colleges and even visit some. Ask yourself, what types of colleges are you looking for? Are they big or small? In the city or rural? Is it more liberal arts centered or is it focused on a specific field? All of these are essential things to consider.
We also strongly urge you to do something efficient this upcoming summer. You could look into an internship, find a job, volunteer for community service, and various other things, but be productive.
Finally, we’d like for you to treat yourself. Give yourself time to relax and do something you enjoy doing every once in a while.
We’ll keep this short and simple for you. Don’t get senioritis just yet. If anything, be excited! You should be looking forward to your last high school year experience.
That being said, we urge you to take the following into account.
We know you’ve probably heard this countless times, but you should really get to scheduling a senior photo. There is nothing better than having it to look back on in the yearbook.
Your college essay should for the most part be done. We all worked on it in summer anyways! So, what’s there to be afraid of? In terms of colleges, you should start working on limiting your options, if you haven’t yet. We strongly suggest using a spreadsheet to stay organized with your research. Having trouble finding websites? Niche, College Insight, and CollegeData are great resources.
Other things to consider are attending college admission presentations throughout the school year. Counselors will inform you as much as they can about scholarship applications and College Board deadlines, but if you don’t ask for help, you can’t expect much in return.
In the end, we still want you to try your best. Colleges request Senior mid-year and final grades so keep working hard and put the best of yourself forth. That means not envying your friends who leave campus fifth period. Worry about you and give it your all!
Lastly, enjoy this year! Join clubs, show school spirit, go to games, and try something new. You might regret not getting involved! Our community here at PCHS is amazing and will definitely be missed as we move onto our new chapters in life. Enjoy Senior year, you’ve earned it!