Thinking about preparing for the future can sometimes feel overwhelming. Tasks like creating a college list, studying for college admissions tests, learning about college majors, and choosing a career are so complex that it can be easy for teens to simply freeze up and do nothing… and then the process becomes even more intimidating.
One good way to jump-start this process is to pick a few simple assignments and include them into your homeschool day. As you and your teen begin to make headway with these tasks it can help provide renewed energy and confidence in approaching college admissions.
Here are a few quick and easy college prep tasks for your high school sophomore or junior.
1. SAT and ACT Question of the Day – Teens can answer a question every day from the College Board or ACT Corporation. Students get an opportunity to answer a single question with immediate feedback and an explanation of why their answer is correct or incorrect. Completing just one question a day may not sound like a lot, but over time it can be surprisingly effective in improving strategies in approaching test questions. Looking at the pattern of missed questions can help reveal weaknesses which may guide further test prep. Getting the daily feedback can also act as a reminder that students need to put in more focused energy into ACT or SAT preparation.
2. Social Media – Adding favorite colleges on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can be a great way to begin to build increased familiarity with a variety of colleges. Some colleges and scholarship programs look at social media profiles so make sure your public image represents the image you would like the world to see. Most colleges have a collection of promotional videos on YouTube.
3. Scholarship Search Engines – Sites such as Fast Web provide an easy way for students to search for scholarships. While there are a lot of data-mining scams out there, it is worth setting up an account to do a quick search now and then to check on scholarship options.
4. College Mail – Is your student getting snail mail from colleges? Sit down together and take five minutes to start to dig through the pile. Make it a low pressure activity and try not to nag about how they should have done it before. You might have fun laughing together at some of the sillier or less effective pitches. If they aren’t getting mail from colleges they are interested in, now is a great time demonstrate interest by visiting the college website and joining the mailing list.
5. Extracurricular Activities – Make a list of your extracurricular activities including sports, clubs, and community service. Are you pleased with what you see? Do you want to expand or change your involvement? Are there ways you could build in more leadership experience? Keeping this list updated throughout high school will make your life easier when it comes time to fill out the activities section of the Common Application.
6. Take a Virtual College Tour– Check out websites that offer virtual tours or video tours of college campuses. Many colleges and universities also have YouTube channels. Again, this should be used as a low pressure activity just to spark interest.
7. Career Quizzes – There many websites that offer free career interest quizzes to help student begin to understand their interests and potential career options. Being undecided about college major is very normal and most teens aren’t going to find their dream career in a five minute quiz. Nonetheless, there is value in encouraging them to start thinking about the wide range of career options available.