fbpx The Road to College: February - Hey SoCal. Change is our intention.
The Votes Are In!
2023 Readers' Choice is back, bigger and better than ever!
View Winners →
Vote for your favorite business!
2023 Readers' Choice is back, bigger and better than ever!
Start voting →
Subscribeto our newsletter to stay informed
  • Enter your phone number to be notified if you win
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / The Road to College: February

The Road to College: February

by Pasadena Independent
share with

By May S. Ruiz

This is the second installment of my monthly college search guide. My daughter didn’t get into the college application mode until the fall of her junior year in high school when her school’s college counselors met with students and their parents. I realized then that we should have been made aware of the full implications of the college application process as early as 9th grade so we could have prepared for it. Happily, everything turned out all right for my daughter in spite of the late start but it had been a terribly harrowing ordeal that I felt compelled to share our experience in the hope that someone could learn something from it.
While I will be addressing parents, students are the ones that need to be prepared and the college application process is something they have to do for themselves. In 9th grade, students think of the college search as something that is so far into the future to start preparing for, but you need to be there to provide them that focus. I have to say that as the parent of a slacker, I was the one getting frustrated at my daughter’s seeming nonchalance in 9th and 10th grade. However, once the application process officially started, she was as stressed out as I was. It was wrenching to watch helplessly by the sidelines as she juggled all the activities she needed to accomplish.
FRESHMAN: Your children are well into the second semester of 9th grade and are now fully engaged in the academic and extra-curricular life at their school. They should continue focusing on maintaining good grades, or if their first semester marks need improvement, now is the time to turn things around. Time management is of paramount importance as schedules could prove to be challenging with their course load, sports and extracurriculars all vying for their attention and time.
Your children should start thinking about their summer community service activity. They need to find something they are passionate about and commit to doing it every summer. My daughter likes learning new things and applying them to real life. She particularly liked Physics and regaled us with her newly-gained knowledge about thermodynamics and such at dinner every night. She chose to tutor at a Pasadena charter school for high school dropouts where she taught Math and Science. Her supervisor loved her energy and passion so much that she made my daughter teacher-in-charge. My daughter went back every summer at this tutoring activity. Your children’s school counselor may have some recommendations on community service and other clubs and organizations to develop their interests and abilities.
SOPHOMORE: Your children should stay on top of their grades to ensure the final grades that go on their transcript are the best they could earn. They still have time to improve their grades if their first semester marks were less than stellar. I am compelled to remind you how important their final grades are. The schools they will be applying to will only get to see the entire marks for their first three years in high school. They need to present the best that they are capable of. They need to meet with their grade class dean to make sure their grades and courses are on the right track for graduation. They should know what tests they need to take and register for them (www.collegeboard.com).
It would be a smart move for them to take the SAT subject test the year they take the course while it is still fresh in their mind. My daughter took her SAT II Chemistry test as well as the AP test in May of her sophomore year.
JUNIOR: I cannot emphasize this enough – junior year is the last complete year that college admission directors will be looking at when your children send their application. They need to maintain their good grades and extra-curricular activities. If they had good study habits back in 9th grade and have established a routine, they shouldn’t be stressing out now. They should have more scheduled meetings with their college counselor to make sure their grades and courses are on track for graduation.
They need to be aware of what standardized tests they should be registering for and taking (SAT I in March, ACT in April or June, SAT II exams in May or June. www.collegeboard.com, www.act.org)
Your children’s plans for spring break college visits should be finalized. If they are visiting the colleges on their own (not the high school’s group-arranged tour), they need to call the admissions office to schedule their visit. It would be very ill-advised for parents to be scheduling the college visit for their students. As much as you want to be hands-on, relinquish control and have your children make the appointments. Most universities have a morning and an afternoon tour at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. There is usually an information session for an hour and a walking tour afterwards. If they are thinking of applying through early action or early decision, they might want to make an interview appointment with an admission officer (if it is a requirement for application). They might also want to schedule to meet with a current student to learn more about the school, or ask to see the rooming arrangements.
SENIOR: Your children should confirm with the colleges to make sure they have all the documents they require. They have to make sure their grades are the best they can earn; schools will ask for their final grades if acceptance is contingent upon final marks. Your children should continue applying for scholarships (www.scholarships.com; www.collegexpress.com; www.scholarships360.org) and getting their FAFSA ready for submission (www.fafsa.ed.gov).

More from Education

Skip to content