College Admission Recommended Timeline: Sophomore Fall to Senior Spring

COLLEGE ADMISSIONS RECOMMENDED TIMELINE

FALL SOPHOMORE YEAR – Focus on making wise academic choices, improving grades, finding passion and focus in extra-curricular activities, test prep indicator PSAT

  • Students should seek to plan for what their academics will reflect by the time they graduate high school. For example, do they want to focus on higher level math and science, fine arts, social sciences, etc. Also, starting Sophomore year is when students may begin to take more advanced courses like AP level – students should make wise choices about what classes they want to take AP or not. Transcripts should reflect passion and focus, as well as achievement.
  • Extracurricular activities are also opportunities for students to reflect their interests, and sometimes narrowing down activities can allow students to thrive more so than with an abundance of activities.
  • PSAT and other standardized tests – Scores of 200+ on NM Index show potential for NM achievement
    • Score of 180+ show potential for very high PSAT scores (1300/1400+)
  • Students should begin PSAT prep summer before Junior year IF scoring 1200 or above on PSAT

 

SUMMER BEFORE JUNIOR YEAR – Focus on test prep planning and college research, continued emphasis on academic strength and improving grades

  • Gather data – baseline scoring for both PSAT/SAT and ACT
    • Take practice tests or utilize pre-tests given on campus
    • Test prep consultations to analyze scores if needed
    • IF students have already completed Algebra 2, summer prep is a good idea
    • IF students have NOT already completed Algebra 2, then summer prep is recommended based on high baseline scores or to accommodate student schedule
    • IF summer prep isn’t recommended, then we aim for prep to begin in November/December or over holiday break
  • Test Prep Course: students should plan for a minimum of 20-30 hours for 100 points of improvement on SAT or for 2 points improvement on ACT
    • Students should plan to take post-prep practice tests as post-assessments to determine areas for growth versus mastery of skills
    • Additional classwork or private tutoring as needed to help refine skills and improve score
    • Students should plan to take the official AUGUST SAT or SEPTEMBER ACT as their first official test
      • Order SAT QAS report – will show every missed question for review
      • Order ACT detailed score report – receive copy of test and answers
  • College Research: students should research dream schools, potential majors, and areas of interest
    • Compile college list organized by Reach schools (dream schools but also competitive with lower admissions rate), Target schools (dream schools but with much higher admissions rates of 50% or better), and Safety schools (NOT back-up choices, but schools with guaranteed admissions)
    • It is important to look at test score goals for Reach schools to motivate students to set high score goals for test prep
    • Virtual tours and visits if possible – schedule premier weekends and register for organized information sessions (demonstrated interest)
  • “Real world” learning experiences – Students should seek to find community involvement activities, like informal or formal internships, shadowing experiences, camps, or volunteering, that will help them to get acquainted with working in the “real world.”

 

FALL JUNIOR YEAR – PSAT NMSQT Test administered in October

  • Students must continue ongoing prep if they engaged in summer prep work and courses
  • Students will test on PSAT in either mid-October or late-October as scheduled by their campus
  • PSAT scores released in December (digital) and early January (paper)
  • Take official SAT and ACT tests in November and December IF students have already completed PSAT prep and established baseline scores
    • IF students have not yet begun test prep process, then use PSAT scores as a baseline and recommend practice ACT to compare baseline scores

 

SPRING JUNIOR YEAR – Official SAT/ACT testing, AP testing, SAT Subject testing, IB testing

  • Official SAT/ACT Testing: use baseline scores from PSAT and Practice ACT – test prep consultation to analyze and determine plan for prep
    • Choose between SAT or ACT prep (both is NOT recommended except for special cases)
    • Plan to test at least 2-3 times on official tests until student achieves goal score (based on college admissions research)
    • Always order detailed score reports if possible
    • Private tutoring or repeated group classes as needed to refine and improve skills
  • AP Testing: May
  • IB Testing: May
  • SAT Subject Testing: NOT recommended for most students
    • ONLY IF required by the college
    • Should happen in May and/or June if a student has already achieved score goal for official SAT or ACT
  • Continued College Research
    • Students should refine their college list down to 7-10 schools (2/3 Reach schools, 2/3 Target schools, and at least 2 Safety schools)
    • College visits and information seminars (virtual tours and webinars if needed)
    • Plan for college applications and college essays
  • Plan for summer work, internships, shadowing, volunteer opportunities

SUMMER SENIOR YEAR – College Admissions, applications, and essays

  • Get organized – use a spreadsheet to organize college list, admissions stats, deadlines, required documents, and a timeline for completion
  • Begin college application profiles – once you have determined the college list, choose which universal applications to use and establish application profiles
  • College Essay – attend college essay workshops or private tutoring to help brainstorm and write college essays and supplements
  • Apply to colleges in Texas as early as July 1
  • Most other colleges will accept applications starting August 1
    • California system and some Pacific Northwest schools don’t open applications until October and November
  • August – request transcripts and letters recommendation according to high school specific process and requirement
  • Deadline – try to submit as many applications and documents before school starts as possible
    • Priority or Early Action deadlines are generally in October and November
    • Regular deadlines are generally in January-March
    • The earlier you apply, the more likely your chances of admissions UNLESS a student has special circumstances (like low GPA or the need for repeated testing during Senior year)

FALL SENIOR YEAR – PSAT NM Announcements, Scholarships and re-testing

  • PSAT National Merit scholars are announced: students must complete the NM application, essay, and short answers and submit by Oct 1st (deadline changes each year, school official may create earlier deadlines for students)
    • Official SAT/ACT scores must be submitted to NMSC by Dec 31st
      • “Comparable” score will be calculated using the selection index score model, even for ACT (when converted to SAT using concordance)
    • Submit high school paperwork – endorsement and transcript
    • Submit college coursework if applicable
    • Students will need to select their top choice school for NM consideration
      • College Choice – students are asked to report their first choice school, but may declare “undecided” and then notify the NMSC as soon as possible
      • Sponsor College as First Choice – students should research schools with National Merit scholarships to ensure that they make a wise choice – VERY OFTEN these schools are considered target or safety choices for a student.
      • College-sponsored NM awards are NOT transferrable if a student later decides to transfer schools, so they need to feel confident in their choice
    • All Finalists will be awarded the NM Finalist $2500 scholarship. Additional corporate-sponsored scholarships and stipends are awarded based on the NM Finalist application.
  • Scholarship applications – once applications have been submitted, students may need to submit additional applications for scholarships
  • Re-testing on SAT or ACT should only happen during Fall of Senior year IF students need to improve scores for scholarship purposes or IF students are applying regular admission with later deadlines
  • Financial Aid – students can complete the FAFSA (recommended for ALL students, even those whose families are not likely to qualify for aid) in October
    • FAFSA support not offered by MTAT, but likely offered by high school counselors

 

WINTER SENIOR YEAR – NM Scholarships Awarded, Admissions awards for Early Action

  • December-January – students who applied early action, priority, or early admission will receive admissions notifications
  • February – NM Semi-Finalists students will be chosen as Finalists and will receive a Certificate of Merit from their high school
    • Submit sponsor college as first choice college by March 1st in order to be considered for the first round of applicants
    • March and May – NM Finalist scholarship winners notified
  • March – regular decision notifications will be sent out
  • May – final college decision and all deposits should be sent, finalize financial aid
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