Navigating High School Academics - October 21, 2017

We are now at that point in the school year where many students (and teachers and parents) have settled into the routine and a period of smooth sailing. You may also be identifying areas in which your child may need some additional support or attention.

The end of the first quarter is October 27th (CHCCS) and those grades may be one indicator of success or struggle. If a parent sees anything of concern on their student’s reports, it is a good time for parent(s) to check in with teachers directly. If the concerns are few, your child may be able to manage such communication – “Why don’t you talk with Ms./Mr. _______ and ask what you can do to be more successful in the second quarter.” If the worries are greater, this is a good time to schedule a conference. You can do that through the school during the regularly scheduled parent-student-teacher conferences. These are held with individual teachers and you can call the school to schedule. You could also ask your child’s school counselor – an important member of you child’s school success team - the process for setting up a meeting with a group of teachers.

We are early in the school year and there is time for redirection and success. The partnership between parents and the school is important for the success of your child. Good communication is the key – along with diligent efforts by your child in terms of assignment completion, studying (which can lead to greater understanding of the material and improved test scores), and seeking help when it is needed.

Best wishes for a great year! Mary

Mary Gratch, Independent Educational Consultant (marygratchconsulting.com)

High School Back - to - school Some great advice from Jolyn Brand

7 Tips to Start the High School Year Off Right

JULY 14, 2017 BY JOLYN BRAND

All high school students, from anxious new freshman to confident seniors, set their minds to making the most of the year.  Four years may sound like a lot, but it’s a short time considering you’re setting the groundwork for the rest of your life. Goal: College!

Here are 7 ways to ensure this school year provides the best support for your future choices and opportunities:

1.  School course choices

Consider your courses and teachers and decide if you’re happy with your choices. Are you challenged? When college counselors see your schedule will they think you tried hard, applied yourself and took challenging courses?

It’s important to take challenging courses, but it’s just as important that you do well in them. Now is the time to switch classes if you need to. Remember that your senior schedule is usually the last thing that college admissions see before deciding if they want you at their school.

2. School organizations

Look at your school’s clubs, activities, and student groups. The beginning of the school year is the best time for exploring interests. Once you decide what you want to try, find out how you can get involved in those organizations. Join at least two new student clubs or organizations. Plan on becoming more than just a “member” by junior or senior year. Elected positions look great on student resumes!

3. Grades/ GPA

Make a commitment to yourself to work hard for the good grades.  If you need help, get it before you fall behind.]

4. Reading and Vocabulary

Build your vocabulary. READ. READ. READ. The PSAT, ACT and SAT all count on your having a good vocabulary, quick reading fluency, and comprehension. It is much easier to build this slowly and naturally than to cram it. Reading will also help your writing, thinking, and speaking.

5. College Visits

There are over 4,000 colleges in the United States. Students will need to narrow those down to a manageable list of 5-12 colleges for applications by the end of junior year. Visiting a couple of colleges during each year will give families time to see more, figure out what they want and don’t want in a school, and get on the college’s list of prospective students.

6. Social Media

Don’t put anything on social media that would embarrass you if a college admissions officer sees it. Give it the grandma check. If you wouldn’t want grandma (or the admissions director of your #1 college) to see or read something, don’t post it.

7. Life Choices

Make smart decisions on alcohol, sex, and drugs. And don’t text and drive or drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  One dumb mistake can ruin your college prospects.

 

More Joy, Less Grind

Grow Your Own Grit – Some thoughts on creating “More Joy, Less Grind”

By Mary Gratch – July 26, 2017 – marygratchconsulting.com

 

About a year ago, I put out a request to friends and former students to tell me what “grit” means to them. I got lovely answers – full of power and perspective. One that I really loved was “more joy, less grind.” I’ve been thinking about that. Here are some ideas that I hope you will ponder.

 

I worked as a high school guidance counselor for many years and I love that I live in a community where I meet up with students and parents here and there and see how their lives are moving forward. Sometimes I learn that a student forged ahead just as anticipated – to college and graduate school and into the career they planned. More often students move in a wavy line as their experiences lead them to fresh ideas, new journeys, interesting jobs and hobbies, and onto paths that really fit better than those they anticipated at age 16. I love being witness to all of these young people – those that knew just what they wanted, those who chose to explore new ideas, and those who sometimes stumbled along the way as they found their own footing.  It takes some courage to step off the planned pathway and see what it is that they want – what might stir their passions and bring out their gifts. Each choice takes courage and grit – the willingness to set a goal or change a goal and then climb toward it and fight for it or just keep marching forward to make it happen.

 

I am a fan of recognizing personal talents and passions and seeing where those might lead a person. I think there are so many options and ideas out in the world that we can’t even imagine. What a gift to find a focus and direction! I enjoyed reading Angela Duckworth’s Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Here are some of her thoughts:

You can grow your own grit.

On your own, you can grow your grit “from the inside out”: You can cultivate your interests. You can develop a habit of daily challenge-exceeding-skill practice. You can connect your work to a purpose beyond yourself. And you can learn to hope when all seems lost.

You can also grow your grit “from the outside in.” Parents, coaches, teachers, bosses, mentors, friends – developing your personal grit depends critically on other people.

 

I think it is especially interesting as an older person to think about how I can help a younger person grow their grit “from the outside in.” Parents do this all day long – holding their children in their minds and hearts with great hope and lots of (mostly good) advice. Other adults in a young person’s life can help them grow grit by sharing their own stories, giving advice, offering internships, and joining in the celebration at each step of the journey. The students who are most successful receive helped along the way – a joy for the giver and the receiver.

 

I want to tell you a little about a couple students who exemplify passion and perseverance. Edie owns and runs her own organic farm on the west coast. She works hard! There is definitely some grind in her days but she emerges smiling with lovely flowers, vegetables, and fruits that she shares in her community. She is physically strong and financially making her way. Maybe I should add vigor to the list of powers that help one succeed! Another student is Aidan, now a college professor at a prestigious school where he teaches and does sociology research. He helps young people to consider their own gifts and interests and enlists them for internships and research. As I think of my students, I think of Leslie who is a pediatric nurse and Lillian who is a special education teacher. I think of Aaron who is a restaurant manager and Martin who plans to go back to college this fall and finish his degree. Did I mention Laura? She edits my blogs. I could go on and on – I’m proud to see how the grownup versions of my former high school students are moving along their own individual paths.

 

I hope you can move toward your personal goals with more joy, less grind. Think about it.

 

Mary Gratch

Irrepressible You - repost from June 2016

Setting goals and making plans are important steps during any important life transition – from middle to high school, from high school to college, from college to the wide world, and then through all the changes that happen as you build your life plan and follow its winding path. As I explore ways to help you make great next steps, I hear these words again and again: grit, perseverance, determination, luck, a sense of adventure, self-reflection, risk, failure, joy, and my personal favorite – irrepressibility.

The definition of irrepressible is “full of energy and enthusiasm; impossible to hold back.” My wish for you is to tap into your irrepressible self as you make this journey and write your own story. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a graduating class, “You get some success. You run into some walls . . . it’s how resilient you are, how irrepressible, how ultimately optimistic and tenacious you are about it that will determine your success.”

How can you tap into that positive spirit even when you are stopped, stuck, or stymied? There will be bumps in the road – and transitions always have some starts and stops. Make a plan. Include plans and activities that you can control while taking some risks by trying something new. If you are starting high school, consider which activities or clubs will build on your current interests and then get involved. If you are starting college, try new activities with new people and take courses that interest you. And if you are leaving college for the wider world, good for you! This is a really big step. Where do you want live? What do you want to do? How will you make your life the joyful adventure that you deserve?

In addition to making a plan and creating a timeline for the steps you will take, I encourage you to build your support system with people from your past and present. Stay in touch with them – and deepen the connections by sharing the good news as well as the tough parts about this time of change in your life. Take care of yourself – eat, sleep, and move toward your goals in even the smallest of steps. Pay attention to the opportunities that lie ahead – sometimes the promise of something better appears in the smallest of omens.

Be irrepressible as you keep moving forward along your singular journey. Mary

For Rising Seniors – Summer Time and Summer Tasks

The College Essay – Telling Your Story

The end of junior year is stressful and you may not be seeking suggestions that add new tasks. I think these can be fun and fulfilling. I challenge you to start wherever you are now and make this a great summer that leads into a greater senior year. If you don’t have summer plans, it is a good time to think about what you want to achieve. Do you need to earn money? Would an internship be important? Could you add to your volunteer or leadership experience? Students often learn more about what they want in the future from experiences in the present. And, visit colleges if you can – time will get tight next year. See some colleges so that you get a feeling about what might be a match for you – programs, size, setting, school culture, etc.

As you are learning more about yourself through your summer activities – who you are, your goals, your dreams – you may well build the basis for a great college essay. Some students will write one for their Common Application schools. Others will have schools that are looking at the Coalition Application. And, there are schools that have their own essay(s) and/or supplements to one of the other essays. I have included the Common Application and Coalition prompts for your class. I hope they provide food for thought.

In the next months I will share ideas about selecting schools and creating a strong application. For now, I would love to have you start thinking about what is special about you, what is your personal story, what might make you attractive to colleges and future employees. The college essay is one place that you can set yourself apart from others who are applying to the colleges on your list. There is no formula for what makes a great essay. The question is about you – how are you special, what is your passion, what do you hope for in the future. Read through these prompts and have some discussion with your family about what they most love and admire about you.

Give it a try. As you read the prompts, think about what you have to say and what is meaningful to you. Then talk about it with those who know you. It is fine to wait for the actual writing until you know where you are applying and what essays those schools require. Reflect on your attributes, interests, and goals. I hope that this activity helps you see how very special you are.

Common Application Essays 2018 - CA - http://www.commonapp.org

1.     Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2.     The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 

3.     Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

4.     Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

5.     Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

6.     Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? 

7.     Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Coalition Application Essays 2018 – CAAS - http://www.coalitionforcollegeaccess.org

  1. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
  2. Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
  3. Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
  4. What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
  5. Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

 

Mary Gratch, marygratchconsulting.com

Marjorie Lancaster, marjorielancastertutor.com

 

 

POWERING THROUGH...

POWERING THROUGH –

4th Quarter, AP Tests, Exams, Grades, and then Summer –

AT LAST!

This is the time to give that final push for a successful end to your school year. And, if you haven’t already made a summer plan, this is definitely the time to focus on that.

One activity that I encourage you to put on your summer list is to explore potential careers and college majors. Here are some ways to approach this task:

·      Daydream – or catch up with sleep and night dream – What do you want to be when you grow up?

·      Watch adults – and ask questions – What do they like about their work? Would it be a good fit for you?

·      Shadow/Intern – Really spend time with someone who is doing something of possible interest and see what parts of the work seem to be a good fit for you.

·      Get a job – What parts do you like? Is this a setting that you’d love for a career?

Some questions to consider as you begin to consider a career:

·      Can it make a positive difference for you, for your community, for the world?

·      Is it challenging? Will you grow personally and professionally?

·      Does it match your interests, values, and your skills?

·      Will there be jobs available when you are ready to work? Will the pay be sufficient for you to meet your financial goals?

·      Does this possible future career offer satisfaction, life balance, and match with other values that are important to you?

·      Remember that it is a process – as you learn more about yourself and about possible careers, you can adapt your college major and future job choices – and end up in a field that is just the right match for you.

Reminder: Starting today, do the hard work to make yourself feel great about this school year. Summer is just around the corner. Power through!

Mary Gratch, April 17, 2017

 

 

Summer Plans – Yes, it is that time!

I know that there is plenty of high school left in this school year and it is hard to imagine that summer break is coming. While working on having a great end of the year, it is also time to work on your summer plans.

My first piece of advice to students is to be certain that your plan has plenty of fun, rest, and family and friends involved. Summer is a time of rejuvenation after your hard work in school. It also offers opportunities to learn more about yourself, investigate future opportunities, and build your college résumé.

Some of these activities are best suited to specific grade levels:

·      Complete up to 25 service hours after 8th grade or more after 9th–12th grades (CHCCS schools); volunteer at a summer program at the Arts Center, the Planetarium, a sports camp, or countless other summer camps; explore ways to learn more about yourself—what makes your heart soar, what you are good at, what you like and don’t like. For the CHCCS schools, go to http://www.chccs.k12.nc.us/academics/service-learning for more information.

·      Take driver’s education (you must be 14½ years old in North Carolina).

·      Participate in a school-sponsored activity such as marching band camp, sports camps or preseason, technology camp, or art camp.

·      Explore a college by attending a summer program at the school.

·      Consider a summer job. Some good first jobs include lifeguard, kennel assistant, summer camp counselor, attendant at a movie theater, work at a restaurant or grocery store, pool cleaner, and golf course caddy. You might also get an internship: talk to people you know with jobs that appeal to you. Or, create your own business: some ideas are tutoring, lawn mowing, babysitting, pet walking/sitting, or being a handy person (doing general tasks). It can be a great experience in entrepreneurship to create flyers and develop your own summer job.

·      Prepare for college by doing PSAT/SAT/PLAN/ACT test prep, making college visits, and working on college essays—you can get started after 9th grade, but the main focus on these activities is usually after 10th and 11th grade.

·      And for graduating seniors: By the time summer comes, my main message for you will be CONGRATULATION! You will have decided what your plans are for next year—but you still need a summer plan. It might include finding a job to earn money for next fall, it might include a trip with high school friends to celebrate all you have experienced together, and it should include the preparation needed for taking your next steps. For now, apply for jobs, internships, or other programs that will help you move into your bright future. And feel proud of yourself!

Mary Gratch, April 2017

A FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT COLLEGE VISITS

Many parents and high school juniors are on the road this week touring colleges. I hope you all packed your sense of humor and some emotional armor. I also hope that you take notes. They will help you later as you consider options – and I’d love to hear your stories!

Here are a few memories that students and parents have shared with me:

·      “I remember I refused to get out of the car at one university because if I am going to wear the sweatshirt for the rest of my life, I need to like the mascot and colors!"

·      “While touring the campus and looking into different classrooms, there was a nude person modeling, which was a shock to me! I also figured that it must be an enlightened and liberal place!”

·      “My daughter and I toured a large university with a group of boys from some detention center. As a social worker I was like, ‘that's great that they're showing them a college campus’ – as a mom I was like, ‘hell NO!’”

·      “The reason I didn’t choose one school was because a bird pooped on me during the tour.”

·      “My friends and I took a road trip through North and South Carolina during spring break of junior year. The mom in charge gave us ranking cards for each school during the tour and we did a 1 to 10 ranking analysis afterward.” Great idea! Made the stressful college search a bit more fun.

·      “I actually only toured two local schools – great schools but, in retrospect, I wish I had taken more time to research schools and to look into scholarship opportunities.”

A little closer to home are two stories from my brother-in-law.

·      The family came to visit a certain school that was the rival basketball school during my brother-in-law’s college days. He just flat refused to get out of the car for the tour. He couldn’t do it. Good thing his son picked a different school!

·      And, speaking of that different school, my brother-in-law’s alma mater, they visited when his daughter was accepted to see if it felt like a good fit. She committed during the reception and he broke down in tears. Sweet!

Send me some tales from the trail. Best wishes in your travels and I hope that your visits help to sort out which features and factors will make a school into a match for your student. Mary

 

 

The Journey from Middle School to High School - Tips for a Successful Transition

1.     Create a four-year plan. Read the course offerings book (online at http://courses.chccs.k12.nc.us/home/high-school-courses) and talk to your current teachers about their recommendations. Use this planner to map out a draft plan. Consider this plan a preliminary one; it is fine—in fact, it is to be expected-- if the plan changes over your high school years as you learn more about your strengths and the many courses and programs available to you.

2.     Think about what high school activities you can become involved with that build on things you already care about. For example, if you love technology, consider the Robotics Club or the Academy of Information Technology. If you want to develop your leadership skills, consider Student Government. If you want to play volleyball, sign up for the summer volleyball camp.

3.     Think about signing up for classes and activities with which you have no prior experience but are intrigued by. Maybe now is the time to exercise your vocal cords outside of the shower by signing up for a chorus class. If the idea of being outside in an activity with new friends appeals to you, maybe the ultimate frisbe club is something to investigage. High school is the perfect time to explore new interests and areas. 

4.     Practice organizational and time-management skills. Keep track of your assignments and due dates by conscientiously using your (electronic or paper) planner. Know how to access your teachers electronically. Set aside time each night to review the notes you have taken in class that day—don’t wait until the night before a test to start thinking about the material

5.     Contribute to your community through service to others. This can be in school or in the community. Earn some service hours during the summer before ninth grade. To learn about approved activities, go to http://www.chccs.k12.nc.us/academics/service-learning.

6.     Begin to think about your goals for life after high school. Do you want to attend a four-year college or university? What are the advantages of attending a community college? What is a gap year, and would you consider taking one? When can you do internships?  

7.     Participate in opportunities to visit your high school and learn more about its programs. You and your parents are encouraged to attend informational meetings that are held in the spring of your 8th grade and at the beginning of your 9th grade year. You are not alone in this important transition, and there are many excellent resources to help you succeed in high school.

 

 

HIGH SCHOOL CAN BE NAVIGATED SUCCESSFULLY AND

CAN BE A TIME OF GREAT JOY –

 

Set some goals for yourself, make a plan, and then enjoy the journey!

 

Follow Your Bliss – December 2016 as we look toward January 2017

In high school, it often feels like all of the external pressures for grades in academic work, performance in activities, plans for college take all the energy you could possible muster. I believe there is another way to frame this busy time. As you approach a new year, think about what it is that you love to do and how that could become part of your plan for 2017.

 When I was young – a long, long time ago – my mom used to say, “Follow Your Bliss.” She meant it. I hope you will find and follow yours.

 “If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.” – Joseph Campbell

It Is Junior Planning Time!

This is a great article on how to best use the PSAT to plan for future SAT/ACT testing. Now is a great time to launch into a plan for ongoing or increasing success in academics and activities in high school. It is also a great time to begin developing a college list with a plan for college visits this spring and summer. I am here to help! 

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/psat-scores-here-7-indispensable-tools-interpretation-adam-ingersoll?trk=hp-feed-article-title-publish

Navigating High School with Purpose and Joy - Smooth Sailing

We are now at that point in the school year where many students (and teachers and parents) have settled into the routine and, hopefully, a period of smooth sailing. You may also be identifying areas in which your child may need some additional support or attention. If a parent sees anything of concern on their student’s reports, it is a good time for parents to check in with teachers directly. If the concerns are few, your child may be able to manage such communication – “Why don’t you talk with Ms. _______ and ask whether you can still complete those missing assignments.” If the worries are greater, this is a great time to schedule a conference. You can do that directly with individual teachers or you can ask a school counselor to set up a meeting with all of your child’s teachers. We are early in the school year and there is time for redirection and success. The partnership between parents and the school is important for the success of your child. 

September + a High School Senior = Stress – followed by a Formula for Success!

School is back in session and high school seniors have deadlines for essays, college applications, scholarship applications – not to mention their current academic work and activities. Sometimes parents and students see deadlines differently and that frustration leads to stress at home. Students want to handle the college plan on their own; parents know that the calendar marches ahead and that best intentions don’t always equal deadlines met.

 

How are the discussions at your dinner table? Or do you even have time for a meal together? It may help to have a third party intervene and create a plan. That could be the school counselor, a teacher, another trusted adult – or I can help. Check out my information at http://www.marygratchconsulting.com. I would be happy to talk with you about your senior and help you plan next steps.

 

Wishing you so much success in this journey! Mary

Days of Graduation and Commencement – and Irrepressible YOU

Setting goals and making plans are important steps during any important life transition – from middle to high school, from high school to college, from college to the wide world, and then through all the changes that happen as you build your life plan and follow its winding path. As I explore ways to help you make great next steps, I hear these words again and again: grit, perseverance, determination, luck, a sense of adventure, self-reflection, risk, failure, joy, and my personal favorite – irrepressibility.

The definition of irrepressible is “full of energy and enthusiasm; impossible to hold back.” My wish for you is to tap into your irrepressible self as you make this journey and write your own story. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a graduating class, “You get some success. You run into some walls . . . it’s how resilient you are, how irrepressible, how ultimately optimistic and tenacious you are about it that will determine your success.”

How can you tap into that positive spirit even when you are stopped, stuck, or stymied? There will be bumps in the road – and transitions always have some starts and stops. Make a plan. Include plans and activities that you can control while taking some risks by trying something new. If you are starting high school, consider which activities or clubs will build on your current interests and then get involved. If you are starting college, try new activities with new people and take courses that interest you. And if you are leaving college for the wider world, good for you! This is a really big step. Where do you want live? What do you want to do? How will you make your life the joyful adventure that you deserve?

In addition to making a plan and creating a timeline for the steps you will take, I encourage you to build your support system with people from your past and present. Stay in touch with them – and deepen the connections by sharing the good news as well as the tough parts about this time of change in your life. Take care of yourself – eat, sleep, and move toward your goals in even the smallest of steps. Pay attention to the opportunities that lie ahead – sometimes the promise of something better appears in the smallest of omens.

Congratulations on your graduation! Be irrepressible as you keep moving forward along your singular journey. Mary

May Day, Mayday Thoughts from Mary Gratch

As the school year winds down, I would like to share a few thoughts and ideas for your consideration.

 

I am going to start with Seniors who must submit their choices today (or, because it is a Sunday, they have one extra day). Congratulations to so many who have great options and have made positive choices. I wish you great joy this summer and in your transition to your next plan. For now, enjoy your friends and family and soak up the celebration of graduation – what an accomplishment! Enjoy these days! You’ve done a great job.

 

Juniors are tired – good job this past year! I think it is the most stressful year for many because students know that these grades “matter” and SAT and ACT scores “matter.” I would like to challenge you to start wherever you are now and make this a great summer that leads into a great Senior year. If you don’t have summer plans, it is a good time to think about what you want to achieve. Do you need to earn money? Would an internship be important? Could you add to your volunteer or leadership experience? Students often learn more about what they want in the future from experiences in the present. And, visit colleges if you can – time will get tight next year. See some spots so that you get a feeling about what might be a match for you.

 

Sophomores are heading into that predictably stressful Junior year. I hope you will use this summer to develop your interests and consider where you want to put your time and energy going forward. If your family travels or if you can arrange to take a trip, visit a couple colleges. Time gets tight in 11th grade and students can get a sense of a best fit (size, setting, programs) by seeing a couple schools now. You could also consider a camp – sports, IT, music, design… - in a college setting this summer.

 

Good job, Freshmen! I hope you have found a happy community in your school and a manageable study routine. Have a great summer! Going forward you are encouraged to get to know teachers and dig deeper into your interests – and to keep your grades up so that you have a good range of options when you begin to plan for next steps.

 

Welcome, Rising Freshmen! My main advice is to consider whether there are things you could do this summer that would orient you to your high school, help you get a drivers license, and/or build your service or leadership resume. Please take advantage of any opportunity to get to know your high school and students who already attend that school. As you move into high school remember that grades matter starting from Day #1 and that sleep also matters – see if you can find a balance.

 

Good luck to every single one of you (students and parents)! Mary Gratch

 

 

 

Finding a College: It’s All about Fun, Set, MATCH!

“People think getting into college is a prize to be won, and the reality is it’s a match to be made,” says Scott Verzyl, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of South Carolina.

 

For many students Spring Break means planning visits to schools as you continue to work on your college lists. I encourage all of you to consider the idea of finding a great fit and then determine the steps that you can take to achieve admission into schools that are a good match for you.

 

Finding these schools is about building a positive high school record in and out of the classroom beginning wherever you are right now. High school can and should be fun.

 

You can take challenging classes in areas that interest you, further develop your interests by trying activities you’re drawn to, and build positive relationships at school, through non-school activities, and in your job. What is most exciting, fun, and interesting to you? Getting clearer about what’s fun now will make it easier to figure out what might be interesting to you in the future.

 

The process of finding a good fit also means that you need to work hard at those things that are part of your personal high school plan. That includes making high marks in the courses that you have selected, taking leadership roles in your activities, networking, and getting involved in meaningful community service activities. You also need to set a plan and create a timeline for college admissions testing, college visits, and the college application process. (Remember, students, these are your responsibilities!)

 

Diane Veto Parham wrote a great article for South Carolina Living that can guide you when thinking about potential schools to consider. In it she asks:

 

Does the school have majors that match your career interests? Are there places nearby that offer internships or extracurricular learning experiences to boost your appeal to future employers or graduate schools?

 

Parham’s article, “College Prep 101,” succinctly lists many helpful details to help you in your search and can be found here.

 

Note: There are a few references that are SC specific (and clearly marked as such), but most of the information will be helpful to any high school student and their parents.


Explore which colleges are a good fit for you as you move through your happy high school years. It’s actually fun to set a strategy to discover a perfect college match!