Your October College Admissions Plan
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October is an important month in the college planning process. For 12th graders, it represents one of the final pushes to application deadlines and one of the last chances to take the SAT or ACT. For 11th graders, college applications might still seem far away, but this is the month where you’re going to get real about college planning. For 9th and 10th graders, October is the transition from beginning of the year adjustment to full stride routine.
If you thought October was just a time for haunted houses and pumpkin spice, think again. In this post, we outline exactly what you should be doing this in October for college prep and planning. Ready to get started?
Ninth Grade Guide to October
In ninth grade, October is the time to get the rest of your year planned out.
Go to informational meetings to find out about activities or extracurriculars that you may want to consider being involved in. Join the ones that appeal to you. Learn more in these posts:
Academically, this is the time to make any schedule changes so you don’t fall behind on classes. If you are considering dropping or adding a class, or changing your section, look now to make sure that you don’t miss important deadlines. See 9th Graders: How to Approach High School Successfully to learn more.
Finally, October of 9th grade is a great time to start creating your college resume. This doesn’t need to be polished or presentable yet, but you should keep a list of your activities and honors. Joined a club or extracurricular? Great, add it to your list! It’s important to record these activities now so that you already have a running list when you start the college admissions process in a few years. For more about getting started, check out our post When Should You Start Building Your High School Resume and Should You Worry About College As a 9th Grader?.
10th Grade Guide to October
October is a good time to take a hard look at your extracurriculars. You’ve had a year to pursue them as a ninth grader and have now had the chance to get your feet wet again. Determine if you are going to stick with the same extracurriculars as ninth grade, and it not, figure out what alternatives might be more interesting or advantageous to you. Colleges want to see progression towards leadership, so ideally you will find a few activities that you can stick with—but don’t stay in an activity you hate just for college admissions. Remember, extracurriculars are for you to enrich yourself and grow. Learn more in our post A Guide to Extracurricular Activities: Grade 10.
October of 10th grade is the time that you should be truly hitting your stride academically. This year, you’ll need to take challenging classes and achieve in them. If you’re realizing that certain classes might be particularly challenging for you, make an action plan now before you get overwhelmed. Line up a tutor or study buddy to help you along, and meet with the teacher to find out what other resources might be available. Gain more insight in by reading Your Guide to Sophomore Year Course Selection.
College Planning and Standardized Testing:
October of tenth grade is probably the first time that you’ll begin to think about standardized tests in earnest, rather than as a distant reality. In spring of your 10th grade year, you should plan on taking the PSAT10. It’s a good idea to check in with a guidance counselor now to make sure it’s offered at your school. If not, check the College Board website for alternative testing sites. More details about the PSAT-10 are available in our post Should You Take the PSAT in 10th Grade?.
Finally, keep up with your college resume, enter in any new activities, and continue to list any special accomplishments or honors. While you’re at it, you should also start keeping a list of colleges that might potentially interest you. College lists are a work in progress right up until you send your college applications, so there’s no reason to delay the process.
11th Grade Guide to October
As an 11th grader involved in extracurriculars, you should try to progress into leadership roles or take on more responsibility this year. During October, you might think ahead to campaigning in the spring for formal leadership roles. This means beginning to take on more responsibility in both formal and informal ways right now. Check out A Guide to Extracurricular Activities: Grade 11 to learn more.
During October of 11th grade, you should reevaluate if your course load is challenging enough. Be sure that you are taking courses that challenge you without overwhelming you. If not, change sections or adjust your schedule as possible before the deadline for class changes passes. There’s more information about 11th grade classes available in our post How to Choose Classes for Your Junior Year of High School.
College Planning and Standardized Testing:
For 11th graders, October is PSAT time. While you don’t need to do extensive prep for this test the way that you would for the actual SAT, you should go into the test with knowledge of what it will be like and having worked on some test-taking strategies. The PSAT is important because high performance on it can lead to significant recognition and even scholarships. You can learn more about the PSAT and preparing for it by checking out these posts:
October is also a good time for 11th graders to make an SAT action plan. Sit down with your guidance counselor, a parent, or a mentor and review the SAT calendar for the upcoming spring. Keep in mind that you will likely want to take SAT Subject Tests as well. Many students plan to take their first SAT during March of 11th grade. This leaves test dates in May, June, August, and October still available before college application are due.
Don’t miss our post Getting Ready to Apply to College: Junior Year for more information about standardized tests and college applications.
12th Grade Guide to October
October is the time to start your final push in 12th grade. You don’t have much time left to compile achievements in extracurriculars before college applications go out. Take on leadership roles as possible, even if they aren’t formalized. Leading a fundraiser or running orientation programs for underclassmen can still be powerful roles, even if you’re not club president or team captain. Our post A Guide to Extracurricular Activities: Grade 12 has more information.
Your 12th grade first semester grades are usually the last ones that get a lot of weight on your college applications. While second semester will eventually be reviewed, this is mostly a formality to ensure that your grades don’t take a drastic nosedive. October is a time to buckle down, study, and achieve during 12th grade.
If you’re having trouble, reach out for help earlier rather than later. If can be difficult to juggle your regular academics with college applications, but you can find some tips to help in our post Balancing the Start of Senior Year & College Applications.
College Planning and Standardized Testing:
October is a very busy month for 12th graders applying to college. You’ll need to be writing your essays, filling out applications, taking your last SATs or ACTs, and making sure that other materials like recommendations and transcripts are all in order and ready to be submitted.
Does this sound like a lot? It is, and we agree that it can easily overwhelm even the most prepared students. That’s why we have tons of resources to help make sure you don’t miss a single deadline or detail. Check out these posts for more help:
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