The best way to prepare for college while in 9th grade is to simply strive to be your best self and best student. The transition to upper school can be difficult, so doing as well as you can in your classes is key. Additionally, begin to get involved in the life of the school. See what clubs, sports, and organizations are available and interesting to you and explore those opportunities.
Please note that grades from eighth grade are not recorded on the transcript, sent to colleges or used in computing a student’s internal GPA; however, grades may determine your placement in ninth grade classes, particularly math and foreign language.
By 10th grade, you should be well acclimated to life in the Upper School at Stuart. This year is a time of personal growth; in addition to working diligently in school and being involved in activities, consider what your strengths are and what you most enjoy doing. Begin to think about why you like doing the things you do and how you might expand on those talents and interests moving forward. Likewise, where are your liabilities and how might you improve on those in the future? These are all important aspects of who you are--and understanding yourself is key to having an outcome you are satisfied with in the college process.
You will also take the PSAT in October at Stuart. Note that the school registers all sophomores and juniors for this test, for which you do not need to prepare. You’ll receive your test results in December and can use this information to set appropriate goals.
11th grade is when your college search will begin to pick up in earnest! While continuing to challenge yourself appropriately in the classroom and taking on leadership roles within the school (or outside of it!), you’ll attend Stuart’s College Counseling Kick-off evening program for juniors and their families, college seminar, our college fair, and have several meetings with your college counselor. These events are aimed at helping you understand all that goes into the college search and admission process and prepare you accordingly. You’ll also learn a lot about yourself as you go through this important work--which can be a lot of fun!
In addition to taking the PSAT again in October (this time also used as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), you should plan to take a practice ACT and decide which test is best suited for you. Visit colleges to attend information sessions and tours (either in person or virtually) in order to learn more about the many options available to you and see what you like and do not like in a college campus. By the end of this year, in consultation with your college counselor, you’ll also decide which two teachers you’d like to ask to write recommendations for you.
Summer Before Grade 12: Well equipped to navigate the ins and outs of applying to colleges, your rising senior summer begins with an essay writing workshop to help you tell your story to colleges and get you on your way to completing this component of your application. Over the summer, you should continue to explore colleges and build your list, complete any remaining standardized testing, work on your application, and begin interviewing at colleges that offer the opportunity. Your college counselor is available throughout the summer to advise you through your process.
It’s application time! In the fall of 12th grade, many college admission representatives will visit Stuart (either in person or virtually), and you’ll continue to work on your application. Students will often have deadlines as early as November 1, so having your application completed thoughtfully and thoroughly well before then is advised. You’ll meet with your college counselor regularly throughout the fall to set small goals and meet those deadlines. Additionally, if you are applying for financial aid, you’ll want to work with your parents on making sure you meet deadlines for that process. Your final college list is due in December, and while you may hear some admission decisions around this time, you’ll continue to hear decisions through March. The spring is when you will visit colleges one last time as you make your final decision of where to attend. Be sure to finish the year strong--academically and personally--as those final grades still matter!