Winter Checklist From Freshmen to Seniors

Freshmen

The beginning of high school is an exciting time. Your child may be adjusting to a new school, making new friends and becoming more independent. But your child still needs your help and involvement. Here are some things you can do together during the winter months.

  • Start thinking about financial aid. It’s not too early to look into types of aid that could help you cover college costs.
  • Discuss next year’s classes. Make sure your child is challenging him- or herself — and taking the courses college admission officers expect to see.

Sophomore

As your child settles into the high school experience, it’s a great time for him or her to take on new challenges. It’s also not too early to explore colleges, college majors and career goals. Use the list below to help make 10th grade count.

  • If your child was not offered the PSAT/NMSQT as a 10th-grader, they may be offered the PSAT 10 in February or March. They are the same test, just offered at different times of the year.
  • Review PSAT 10 or PSAT/NMSQT results together. Log in to the student score reporting portal with your child to learn what she or he is doing well and which skills your child should work on to get ready for college and career.
  • Start thinking about ways to pay for college. Most families get help paying for college costs.
  • Encourage your sophomore to consider taking SAT Subject Tests. Many colleges require or recommend taking these tests to get a sense of your child’s skills in a certain academic area. In general, it’s best to take a Subject Test right after taking the relevant course.
  • Discuss next year’s classes. Make sure your child will be challenging him- or herself and taking the courses college admission officers expect to see.

Juniors

Junior year usually marks a turning point. This is because for most students and families, it’s when college planning activities kick into high gear. Here are some things you can do this during the winter break to support your child and give him or her the best options.

  • Review PSAT/NMSQT results together by logging in to the student score reporting portal.
  • Help your child prepare for the SAT. Many juniors take the SAT in the spring so they can get a head start on planning for college.
  • Discuss taking challenging courses next year. Taking honors courses or college-level courses like Advanced Placement as a senior can help your child prepare for college work — and these are also the courses that college admission officers like to see.
  • Encourage your junior to consider taking SAT Subject Tests. Many colleges require or recommend taking these tests to get a sense of your child’s skills in a certain academic area. In general, it’s best to take a Subject Test right after taking the relevant course.
  • Encourage your child to take AP Exams. If your 11th-grader takes AP or other advanced classes, have him or her talk with teachers now about taking these tests in May.

Seniors

Senior year is a whirlwind of activities. This is a big year for your child as he or she balances schoolwork, extracurricular activities and the college application process. Use the suggestions below to help you and your child successfully navigate this important time.

  • Work together to apply for financial aid. Have your child contact the financial aid offices at the colleges in which he or she is interested to find out what forms students must submit to apply for aid. Make sure he or she applies for aid by or before any stated deadlines. Funds are limited, so the earlier you apply, the better.
  • Learn about college loan options together. Borrowing money for college can be a smart choice — especially if your high school student gets a low-interest federal loan.
  • Encourage your senior to take SAT Subject Tests. These tests can showcase your child’s interests and achievements — and many colleges require or recommend that applicants take one or more Subject Tests.
  • Encourage your child to take AP Exams. If your 12th-grader takes AP or other advanced classes, have him or her talk with teachers now about taking these tests in May.

Source: https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-started/for-parents

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