Starting 12th Grade: 7 Things You Need To Do
Once you enter 12th grade, you’re going to be in the final stretch of high school and very close to adulthood. Most pressingly, your college application process is about to begin, which means you are going to be very busy, particularly during the fall semester. There’s a lot that you need to do as you start 12th grade in order to ensure a smooth college application process and transition into adulthood. For a complete list of the things you ought to do as you head into your senior year, read on.
Finish Your Standardized Testing
If you’re planning to go to college and you haven’t earned an SAT/ACT score that you’re comfortable with, the fall semester of your senior year is your last chance to take retake the exam for a higher score. Thus, you need to buckle down and really study hard for your last chance standardized test.
Before you start studying, however, make sure that you are registering for an SAT/ACT test date that will allow you to get your scores back in time to submit them for your college applications. Usually, colleges will allow you to submit your SAT/ACT scores a few weeks or even months after the submission deadline, but you need to make sure your scores will be released well before then. You need at least a week or two after you get your scores for CollegeBoard to send them to each college.
Most importantly, remember that your application is incomplete without your standardized test scores, and you likely won’t be considered by the university without them. Thus, regardless of how your last chance standardized test goes, you need to make sure you send a score report to the college in order to be considered as an applicant.
Still worried about that last chance standardized test? Perhaps this previous post can help.
Start Applying For Scholarships and Financial Aid
If you plan to pursue more schooling after high school, odds are there are going to be costs associated with it. College can be a large financial burden for many students, especially if the student goes to an out-of-state or private university. Thus, while you’re applying to post-graduation colleges/schools, you should also be looking for ways to lessen the costs of continuing your education.
Scholarships and Financial aid are abundantly available for students who are looking to pursue college. Colleges, foundations, and organizations usually offer scholarships and loans for specific types of students, such as those with low-incomes, those from a particular area, those who are of a certain ethnicity, and other criteria.
Thus, if you start looking early enough, you’re bound to find some scholarships that match your profile. The fall semester of your senior year is really the latest you should start searching for financial aid and scholarships.
Reach Out To Teachers For College Recommendation Letters
By the time you get to your senior year, you have probably taken classes with a large number of teachers, some that you got along with and some that you didn’t. Your task as a senior is to reflect on all of your high school teachers and previous class and figure out which teachers you want to ask for letters of recommendation. Most colleges will want anywhere from 1 to 2, but you may want to ask three teachers just in case.
When you’re deciding which teachers to ask for a recommendation letter, try to consider the following:
- Which of your teachers is likely to remember you after all this time?
- Were there any teachers who you had a special relationship with that could really attest to your skills and work ethic?
- Which of your teachers seem organized enough to spend quality time on your letter and submit it on time?
Once you’ve decided who to ask for a recommendation letter, you need to ask them as soon as possible. Give your teachers plenty of time to create a quality letter of recommendation. For more information on how to request a letter of recommendation, see our 9 Rules for Requesting Letters of Recommendation From Teachers.
Focus On Your Classes
This is particularly crucial during the first semester of your senior year but is also very applicable in the Spring. There is a huge temptation to fall into what is known as “Senioritis”, a state of mind where you lose the motivation to work hard in your classes and extracurriculars and develop an apathetic attitude towards school in general.
You need to try and avoid Senioritis at all costs. For starters, it’s important that you finish strong in your academics so that you can make sure you’re able to graduate and that you know everything you need to know as you head into college classes. Colleges also do look at your grades during your final year and have the right to rescind your admission if your grades drop too low.
The easiest way to avoid Senioritis is to be motivated in your classes from day 1. If you take the time at the beginning of the school year to really focus on your classes and get engaged with the material, you are more likely to stay engaged for the rest of the semester.
Start Saving/Earning Money For College
For most families of college-bound students, the investment in a college education requires a large monetary cost that parents and families may not necessarily be able to pay all at once. Thus, it’s important to start planning for college costs as soon as possible and start building up some savings in order to pay for tuition, room and board, and other college expenses in the fall.
Saving for college is a family affair. Sit down and talk with your parents ASAP about what you all can do as a family to lessen the burden of college costs next year. Some ideas include you getting a job, cutting back on vacations and other luxury expenses this year, and making a conscious effort to eliminate frivolous spending.
Apply To College
If college is the route you decide to take, the fall semester of your senior year is go-time. You’re going to be spending most of your fall semester filling out college applications. Most colleges have application deadlines of around December or January, and those deadlines are often earlier when you apply Early Decision or Early Action.
Thus, you need to spend your fall semester finalizing your college list, gathering everything you need to apply (recommendation letters, your transcript, etc), and filling out your college applications.
As a side note, we at CollegeVine understand that there are many other options besides college that students can pursue after they graduate. Students can take a year off to travel, enlist in the military, attend a trade school, or pursue some other non-college-related path.
During your last year of high school, make sure to sit down and really think about which path is right for you. Your life is whatever you want it to be, so go down the path or journey that you think is right for you.
Cherish This Time With Your Family
Homesickness is a very common phenomenon that afflicts students who have just moved away from home, and it’s a powerful feeling. So many students who move out for the first time miss their parents terribly, and unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get over it.
Knowing that, it’s important that you spend this year with your family and make sure you get as much quality time as you can with them before you move away. Your parents will definitely appreciate you making the effort to spend time with them while you can, and they will likely reciprocate in kind.
For More Information
Want some more tips about how to handle your senior year? Check out these previous blog posts from CollegeVine:
Your Guide To 12th Grade Success
Seniors–Why You Need To Make The Most Out of Second Semester
The Best Apps To Organize Your College Planning
A Guide To Extracurricular Activities: Grade 12
Want access to expert college guidance — for free? When you create your free CollegeVine account, you will find out your real admissions chances, build a best-fit school list, learn how to improve your profile, and get your questions answered by experts and peers—all for free. Sign up for your CollegeVine account today to get a boost on your college journey.