The first full half of the school year is complete and — hopefully, with no more snow days to contend with — it’s time for high school students to lay the groundwork for a strong finish. Here are three important areas that warrant focus in the coming months.
Study hard. This may seem obvious, but you might be surprised at the numbers of seniors who slack off academically once they’ve received college acceptance letters, or have a post-school career path in mind. Colleges pay close attention to their future students’ academic performance. In cases of extreme drop-offs, admission offers can even be revoked. For undersclassmen, the remaining months of the school year are equally important, because they make up a significant percentage of the overall GPA. Ultimately great grades are still the most significant starting factor in determining a student’s appeal to specific colleges.
Plan ahead. For underclassmen, spring is a good time to research potential schools and to begin planning campus visits. It’s also a good idea to work closely with your guidance counselor and teachers. They are always well positioned to evaluate a student’s academic performance, and to recommend ways to strengthen his or her student profile. College-bound students also need to be proactive in prepping and taking SAT and ACT tests. For most students, a schedule of practice tests and multiple seatings for the actual tests are worth considering, in order to ensure the best test results possible.
Stay busy. Seniors should make the most of their final months in school, by engaging in clubs, sports and other activities. Often, these out-of-classroom experiences provide the best memories and some of the most valuable lessons in a high school career. For younger students, a balanced school experience should include extra-curricular activities. Focus on those that are most enjoyable, are aligned well with interests or academic curricula, or that the student excels in. As a general rule, students should go “narrower and deeper” as they get older. A longer tenure on sports teams, in clubs and groups such as bands and chorus, increases the likelihood for students to assume leadership roles in these groups.
As the weather gets warmer and the school year winds down, it can be tempting to slack off a bit. The students who stay on task, inevitably are glad that they did so.