Sidestep the Senior Slide: Top Tips for College Preparation
To College and Beyond!
It’s important for parents and educators to inform soon-to-be senior grads about how to prepare for a successful college career. As teachers, we are influential in how our students make decisions about the future and many of our students may not have access to post-grad advice at home. Here are a few ways that teachers can help seniors find success in college.
1) Apply early! If a senior is certain that a particular college is right for him or her, applying early (fall of senior year) can offer many advantages. Early applicants get an admissions decision from the college well in advance of the usual spring notification date. The student will know by December or January whether he or she has been accepted. Also, this is a great way to have a bit of an edge if the applicant is borderline in terms of meeting the college’s entrance requirements.
2) Maintain GPA: A classic symptom of the senior slide is a wallowing GPA. Three years of hard work can slip quickly down the drain as seniors become lazy, focusing on fun instead of finishing out a strong senior year. Most schools now require submission of spring transcripts and may, in some drastic situations, revoke admission if the student performs poorly during the spring semester. Furthermore, a drop in GPA could also alter eligibility for scholarships or grants.
3) Make an independent visit to the school of choice: Even after a student tours the school of his or her choice, it is important that they pay a visit to the school and spend some time there independent of their guardians. On their own, the student is free to ask questions, explore and, most important, discover the true feel of the campus.
4) Think about careers: Although it seems that high school is too young to consider careers, it is an important time to consider and weigh what is wanted in life. If the student isn’t prepared to decide on a major soon after entering college, the first few years can become a meandering waste of time – and money. Encourage your seniors to explore career options by reflecting on what is of interest to them. Work with the counseling staff to arrange career days or seminars with local professionals. Students having a vision when first entering college can make all the difference later when it’s time to start applying for real-world jobs and graduate school.
5) Search out scholarships: The Internet may be the most obvious place to turn for scholarships – and for good reason. Specialized search engines like Scholarships.com and Fastweb offer a comprehensive and quick approach for finding money. However, ask your counseling office about local scholarships that may be available in your area. Often, Rotary Clubs and other community groups offer money for local kids that are heading off to college.
6) Ask for advice: Encourage your students to talk to an advisor before they register for classes. Depending on the size of the school, students may or may not receive close attention from a college advisor. Stress the importance of about being proactive and seeking out advice from mentors, professors and academic advising staff at the university where he or she is attending. Even before they arrive on campus, most university staff is happy to help incoming freshman create a plan of action and choose the right classes. The fall semester of freshman year is a critical time for getting off on the right foot and may set the tone for the rest of their college career.
7) Encourage the use of student planners: When I taught in a block schedule in which students had three or four classes per day, the use of a student planner was almost nonexistent. Later on, I found that these students struggled to keep both assignments and classes organized. Encourage your students to keep a planner – even if they don’t use it much at first. After a while it will become a golden habit that will help them succeed. This is just a small list of ways that you can encourage your seniors to succeed in college! Remember – as an experienced educator you have an incredible influence on the future of your students.