The Showcase Magazine - Articles

By: Erik Slagle

What’s ahead this spring and summer for college applicants?

It’s decision time all around the country, as college applicants sit down to weigh their acceptances and financial aid offers. It used to be called the “fat envelope frenzy” as students and parents alike eagerly checked their mailboxes for those packets welcoming you to college for the year ahead.

Those fat envelopes have given way to emails, but the frenzy lives on among seniors.

For juniors and sophomores, it’s a much different picture. There are plenty of opportunities ahead to take the SAT (now digital) and ACT (still on paper). With so many dates and deadlines to keep track of, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. So, in the next two issues of the Showcase, “College Bound” will look ahead to the spring and summer with a month-by-month plan to make sense of it all.

For parents, whether your teen just took the March SAT or April ACT (or even one of the December tests), there are plenty of opportunities ahead to try for one last boost. My overall recommendation is to limit tests to no more than 3 – the statistics show there isn’t much improvement after a third attempt – so keep that in mind when planning future dates:

May: The May SAT is right around the corner on May 4th. There may still be spots available if you check the College Board website today. But in May, AP tests might take priority. If you’re not sure about May, don’t stress – the June 1st SAT may be a good fit instead. Make sure to sign up by May 16th for the June SAT.

If the June 8th ACT is in the cards, register by May 3rd to reserve your spot. Or if you’re looking to try a summer ACT, the deadline to register for the July 13th test is coming up in early June – get a jump and sign up in May to make sure you get a spot that’s local for you!

June: The first Saturday of the month offers an SAT opportunity, and one week later is the ACT. This month also has an early deadline (June 7) to register for the July 13th ACT. But give your student space to focus on final exams and getting their summer plans in place for internships, part-time jobs, and of course college applications.

Some high schools may have students begin their college essay work in the spring; this can also be a good time to start planning how you’ll approach the important supplemental essays that have become so prevalent in the application process. But unless a family has extended travel plans for the summer, or the student knows they have a major time commitment ahead (again, think internships or jobs), my recommendation is to let the spring be about schoolwork and tests and not try to lump essay-writing into these months as well.

In the next issue we’ll look at what comes after June, so you can lay out a clear plan and calendar to help take some of the stress off them – and you! – in the process. It doesn’t need to be as stressful as some people make it –it just takes a little organization and the right plan of attack!

And in the end, in my 20+ years of experience, every student ends up exactly where they are supposed to be. It’s hard to see when you’re going through it, but rest assured, your son or daughter will too!