When Should I start preparing my college applications
HS2 Academy Head Counselor Mihir Shah
Planning for college admissions is not a one or two-year endeavor. Instead, a student’s choices and experiences from the moment they graduate junior high school lead to the formulation of a complete and comprehensive college admissions profile. Too often, students and families wait until their junior year to take action. However, what most find astonishing is that by the time they reach the second semester of their junior year, they are a mere eight months away from submitting their applications. Considering the competitive nature of college admissions in the 2020s, it is imperative for families and students to have a sense of urgency beginning high school to gather experiences and explore.
Simply put, ninth grade is an ideal time to start assimilating into the high school ecosystem, from joining clubs and establishing a network of like-minded peers to searching for that one experience or activity that stems from passion and drive. Discover what you like, what you excel in, what you dislike, what you don’t do as well in. This act of exploration is not ideal to take on when one is in the midst of the rigors of junior year Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, not to mention standardized and subject testing.
While physically filling out your application will not begin until August 1 before your senior year, when the major application systems like the University of California and the Common Application open up, having an understanding of the activities and awards you want to feature on your application or who you want to ask for a letter of recommendation have utmost importance. Thus, it is important to create a plan when you get into ninth grade and then continue to modify that plan as your interests and desires evolve.
When a student begins preparing for their college applications in ninth grade, he or she will then have the luxury to align his or her course curriculum and extracurricular activities to further the individual’s particular area of interest.