- The summer before your senior year is extremely important. Land an internship or a research position in a field that interests you. Ask tons of questions, meet as many professionals as you can, and talk with people about your goals.
- Come up with a list of colleges that you will apply to: one or two safety schools (ones that you're fairly confident will accept you), two or three match schools (ones that you love and feel are a great match for your personality, interests, career goals, high school GPA, and ACT and SAT scores), and one or two dream schools (ones that you absolutely love, but are very competitive or very expensive).
- Schedule plenty of time to focus on your applications. Admissions counselors can spot a carelessly completed application from a mile away - not the impression you want to give! Present yourself as nothing less than a valuable, qualified, interested candidate to any school you apply to.
- Don't bother applying to tons of schools! Be honest with yourself and try to apply primarily to colleges that seem like a great match for your academic skills and personality. Admissions counselors can easily pick out applicants who are just sending out dozens of applications - they are no more interested in you than you are in them! Spend your precious, limited time preparing great applications and essays for just a few good matches.
- Have an honest discussion with your parents about how you'll be paying for college. Research ways to pay for college. Make an appointment with a financial expert who can talk to you about how to take out student loans the smart way!
- Don't slack in your classes! Continue to challenge yourself with AP classes.
- Stay focused on your goals -- you're almost an adult now and it's really tempting to join friends who are making questionable decisions. Have a good time this year -- but stay away from activities that you might regret later.
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