Stay on Track

Checklist for this Week, August 13, 2012

For freshmen and sophomores

Make homework grades count. Homework helps you to understand concepts more thoroughly and helps you practice new skills. Remember that the grades you make these first two years in high school are as important as the grades you make your senior year.

Studying is homework. Remember that completing written work is not the only type of homework. Reviewing notes, reading, and studying for quizzes and tests are all types of homework. Include these activities in your homework time allotment. The key to dealing with homework is to make it a part of your evening routine.

For juniors

Your teachers are in a partnership with you to help you reach your goals. As you work with them, keep the following thoughts in mind:

  • You may need to ask your teachers for letters of recommendation for employers, colleges, and scholarships. Try to get to know your teachers this year.
  • Many college, employment, or scholarship forms that you'll ask a teacher to complete on your behalf request that the teacher "rate" you on a set of characteristics. As you work in your classes, you'll want to demonstrate your positive attributes.
  • Solicit help from teachers. They are impressed with students who seek to improve their skills and classroom performance. Use their expertise and experience.
  • Participate actively in your learning! Remember that the skills and knowledge you're gaining today will benefit you later in life. A student participating enthusiastically and positively in classroom activities is greatly appreciated by a teacher.

For seniors

It's time to start thinking about the actual college application. On average, students apply to between five and 10 colleges or universities during their senior year. Many schools now have their applications available online, making it even easier to apply. Prepare your college resume and be sure to include a record of your academic abilities as well as your extracurricular activities and achievements.

Here are a few other tips to help you as you begin filling out college applications:

  • Be honest. Admissions offices will check your application with your transcript.
  • Follow directions. The application often provides a first impression of you.
  • Be specific. What instrument do you play in the orchestra? What position do you play on the team? What competitions (debate, speech, theater arts, etc.) do you participate in? What awards or recognitions have you earned?
  • Be complete. Provide all the information the college needs to process your application. Don't leave fields blank unless they are indicated as optional.
  • Ask for help if you have questions. Don't be afraid to call or email the college admissions office if you have questions about the application. They want you to get it right!

Another great resource for information on the college application process is your school guidance counseling office. Many times, the guidance office receives college catalogs, viewbooks, CDs, applications, and other information from schools across the country.

For parents

With school starting, you probably have more paper in your house than you want. Volunteer forms, emergency care cards, PTA membership forms, and many more items fill the packets that come home the first few days of a new school year.

  • Emergency care card — This is critical information for a school. Should your child get sick or be injured at school, this card provides the names and phone numbers of people to contact. Be sure that all work phone numbers and cell phone numbers are recorded. Provide correct physician information as well.
  • Volunteer form — Review volunteer opportunities carefully. Schools that have significant parental involvement have better student performance.
  • Handbook receipt form — Many high schools ask parents and students to sign an acknowledgment form that indicates that a school handbook has been received. The handbooks usually contain information about a school's grading policies, dress codes, discipline procedures, and much more. Return the form and keep the booklet handy to answer your questions.
  • Parent/teacher organization membership form — Joining your school's organization is another way to show support for your community's educational endeavors. Support your teen's school and join today. Attend meetings and express your opinions.