Weekly College Column

Making the best use of teacher workdays

It seems like there are more teacher workdays and holidays in the fall of the academic year. This presents a great opportunity for sophomores, juniors, and seniors; whether you are starting the process as a sophomore, in the midst of college research as a junior, or putting the finishing touches on your essays as a senior.

Here are some suggestions on how to maximize these teacher work days:

Teacher workdays provide a valuable opportunity for high school students to make significant strides in their college admissions journey. These days, often scheduled as breaks during the academic year or at the end of a semester, are ideal for students to gather important resources, make crucial decisions, and enhance their applications.

  1. Reflect and Set Goals

Before diving into the specifics of your college applications, take some time to reflect on your academic and extracurricular experiences. Use this time to assess your strengths, weaknesses, and personal goals. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What are my academic interests and career aspirations?
  • What are my strengths and areas for improvement?
  • Are there any specific colleges or universities I am particularly interested in?

By setting clear goals and understanding your own ambitions, you can tailor your college admissions strategy accordingly.

  1. Plan Your College List

One of the most crucial steps in the college admissions process is creating a well-balanced college list. Teacher work days are the perfect time to research colleges and universities that align with your goals and preferences. Consider factors such as location, size, majors offered, campus culture, and financial aid options. Create a list of reach, match, and safety schools to ensure a balanced and realistic selection.

  1. Seek Teacher Guidance

Your teachers can be valuable allies in the college admissions process. Use teacher work days to request letters of recommendation from teachers who know you well and can speak to your academic strengths and character. Approach them with a well-prepared request, including a list of your accomplishments and your college aspirations.

  1. Develop a College Application Timeline

Creating a well-structured timeline for your college applications is essential for staying organized and on track. On teacher work days, sit down with a calendar and map out deadlines for standardized tests, application submissions, financial aid applications, and scholarship opportunities. Having a clear plan will help you manage your time effectively and avoid last-minute stress.

  1. Prepare for Standardized Tests

If you plan to take standardized tests like the SAT or ACT, teacher workdays provide dedicated time for test preparation. Utilize online resources, practice tests, and prep courses to improve your test-taking skills. Consider taking a diagnostic test to identify areas where you need the most improvement and focus your efforts there.

  1. Draft and Revise Essays

Your college essays are a critical component of your application. Use teacher workdays to brainstorm essay topics, write drafts, and seek feedback from teachers, counselors, or peers. Remember to convey your authentic voice and tell a compelling story about yourself. The more time you invest in essay writing, the stronger your application will be.

  1. Research Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financing your college education is a significant consideration. Spend some time researching financial aid options and scholarships available to you. Many colleges offer scholarships based on merit, extracurricular involvement, and other criteria. Apply for as many scholarships as possible to reduce the financial burden of college.

  1. Attend College Information Sessions

Some teacher work days may coincide with college information sessions or campus tours. Take advantage of these opportunities to learn more about the colleges on your list. Visiting campuses and speaking with admissions officers can provide valuable insights and help you make informed decisions.

Remember that careful preparation and organization can make the difference between an average application and one that stands out to admissions committees.

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to: lee@bierercollegeconsulting.comwww.bierercollegeconsulting.com 

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