Stay on Track

Checklist for this Week, July 22, 2013

For freshmen and sophomores

High school is quickly approaching. In a month you will begin your "high school experience." There are three critical aspects of making the most of the next four years:

  • Be sure that you have chosen the most rigorous courses that you can handle successfully. The skills you will gain in these classes will be your preparation for the future.
  • Explore school activities. The key to enjoying high school is to get involved. Choose activities that you have an interest in and go for it. You will learn organizational and leadership skills and have a great deal of fun along the way.
  • Consider community activities. Finding a place to make a contribution to your community is both rewarding and fun. Don't give up your volunteer experience once school starts. These efforts keep you connected to the real world.
  • Combining learning and extracurricular activities will give you the richest of high school experiences.

For sophomores

This is the year that you will start to take "practice" tests for future college entrance exams. Familiarize yourself with test formats by visiting the following websites:

For juniors

Your summer vacation may present a unique opportunity for you. Soon you will be choosing a college, so it is never too early to start visiting college campuses to gain information.

If your family's summer trip puts you in the vicinity of a possible college choice, take the time to make a campus visit.

For seniors

You accomplished a great deal in recent weeks as you prepared your resume. Now it is time to move on to another summer task that will save you more time during the upcoming year. It is time to start composing the rough drafts of your college essays. Here are a few pointers for crafting this important part of your college application:

  • Personal: Your best essay will be the one that reflects you and your personality. The purpose of the college essay, in addition to getting a sense of your writing ability, is for the college to know who you are. Don't try to write something you think the college wants to hear. Be yourself.
  • Purpose: As you write your essay, be sure to address the topic that the application provided. Follow the directions for your essay, and use it as an opportunity to relate personal insights.
  • Proofread: Use spell check on the final draft of your essay. Have your parents, friends, teachers, counselor, or a neighbor read the essay. They will give you honest feedback, and they will know if it truly reflects you. They can also check for punctuation and grammar mistakes. Some college evaluators are very concerned with correct grammar and spelling, so you want your essay to be in appropriate written form.

For parents

With working teens in your household this summer, it is a good time to sit down and have some "money management" discussions. Here are a few topics that you may want to cover:

  • Outline the financial obligations for which you expect your teenager to be responsible.
  • Discuss how much of their summer earnings should be placed in a savings account for emergencies or unexpected costs.
  • Prepare a list of all of the costs expected over the next school year.
  • Review the family financial plan for college funding.
  • Emphasize the fact that colleges expect students, as well as parents, to save for higher education.
  • Investigate opening a checking account for your child or letting them use a debit card so that they can begin to learn about money management issues.