Freshman Year Ideal Timeline
The Big Picture
Getting into college is a project/process. Multiple steps are required and many times the steps should be and are required to be in chronological order. Our goal at Clark College Funding Inc. is to help you find multiple colleges that meet your family's standards academically, socially, and financially. This tool hopes to help accomplish this goal by communicating the college planning process in an "ideal" timeline format. The big picture is communicated by using the yearly timelines. These timelines list the major steps over a calendar year in an ideal world, under perfect conditions, and with no other workload to consider.
- Resolve to be the best student you can be. There are many resources to help you accomplish this tough but worth it goal. Here are a few of your resources:
- Your Parents have been here. Give them as many chances to help as you can. A weekly meeting is desirable. Some of you may be saying “no way”. I will say there is a way if you are looking for it.
- Your high school guidance counselor. Work with him/her often. Guidance counselors are overloaded in some school districts. Seek out a teacher to share questions with. Most teachers have the gift of giving. Some do not . Find the ones that do. Make every effort to create a first name relationship with your new best friend, The High Schools Guidance Counselor. Ask the guidance counselor what college resources the school has that you can use.
- Learn your best study habits. Everyone is a little different here so find what works for you and stay dedicated to the discipline of becoming a master student. Buy into education. It works. High School grades and the difficulty of classes taken to get those grades are the number one factor for college admissions.
- Get involved in opportunities outside of the classroom and the books. The concept of depth and breadth should be discussed here. To the extent possible, get involved in extracurricular activities. These activities develop leadership and higher levels of maturity. It is not the number of activities (Breadth) you are doing that impresses, but the depth of them. Example: Band for three to four years. Scouting programs for three to four years. Depth is better than Breadth.
- Start saving for college if you have not already done so. Seek out financial professionals who understand the college process for options to save for college. Financial Planners who are members of the National College Advocacy Group or the National Institute for Certified College Planners would be a good place to start. All planners will say they understand saving for college, but there are many members of the above organizations who understand at a deeper level. Example: should you save in a money market, mutual fund or an insurance product? Planners schooled in the effects of saving on affordability as measured by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are what you want.
- Seems early but let us build our college vocabulary by defining the types of colleges out there. What is our goal and if necessary our fail safe position for higher education?
- Liberal Arts Colleges:
Dedicated to providing education to undergraduates. Research out there has suggested Human Resource Managers like liberal arts graduates because they are a well-rounded, strong foundational asset for a company.
Larger scoop of majors offered. Many universities will have the lion share of research opportunities. Many University class sizes will be larger.
- Technical Institutes/Professional Schools:
Students going to this group are crystal clear what they want to do and want the training and certification for that career.
- Community or Junior Colleges:
These are colleges offering two year associates degrees. In today’s world of college cost containment, this option can save a college bound student/family a lot of money as a stepping stone to the larger goal of graduating from the four year institution’s bachelors degree. December Freshman
- Do not miss out on College fairs offered in your area. Early shopping helps a student/family see the various options and desires necessary to make a good decision for the ideal college. Even a physical visit can help a student focus on the goal to become the great student colleges desire the most. A resource here is the National Association for College Admissions Counseling which organized college fairs across the country. Check their web site for dates and locations.
- If your studies and extracurricular activities allow for some additional time investment then secure a job. A job related, if possible, to what you want to do. The last sentence may be a stretch as you may not know what you want to do yet. So to be clear let me say your ideal situation may be a job related to what you want to do. Your real situation may be to just get a job.
- Start a journal if you have not already done so. Reflection helps formulate ideas soon to be forgotten when you do not write them down. Written goals can be placed here also. Items for resumes that you will create in the senior year admissions process can be remembered here.
- Plan your Sophomore Year Course load with your High School Guidance Counselor. Taking higher level competitive courses can add to your level of admissions for more competitive colleges. The outline should be the core curriculum items and then if your career objectives are solid, look for courses that enhance your experience with the career objective. The core groups that should always be covered are: Science, Foreign Language, English, History, Geography, Government, Civics, Economics, Social Science and Math. Be true to yourself. Do not overload. A low score in a competitive course is low and possible lowers your scores in other classes due to the time invested in the competitive course. With this caution mentioned I would err on the side of reaching as being safe. Remember if you reach too far and do not do well, it may lower your chance at the elite college, but it makes you look super that you used the high schools course availability to the best you could do for other very good colleges. Your high school guidance counselor is your contact person for these goals for course selection and now is the time. With any course, always do the very best you can do. Do not just get by.
- Sign up for sites that can enhance your vocabulary skills and your writing abilities. A great resource for this is the College Board at www.collegeboard.org . There are others on the internet. Word of the day is a great discipline to develop a great vocabulary.
- Plan your summer activities. A job may be all you will do. A vacation may be on the list. Add some reading and educational pursuits of your choosing, not the school's. Branch out as you find out what you want to do. Investigate or “Shadow” a person for a week in a career you are considering. Interview adults in your family's circle of influence to discuss their jobs and the educational foundation they chose to support it.
- Finish the year strong. A great grade point average takes time to develop over a period of years. Make sure the effort to get the best finals and GPA has been expended. In sports they say leave nothing on the court. Do Not just get by, but excel to the best level you can.
- How is your reading coming? What have you read this month? You know what your classes are going to be in the fall. Do some reading on the material you are going to jump into in a couple of months. Explore new things you may have been putting off. It is the time for some summer classes at your local community college. Why not take a class for the fun of it?