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  • Writer's pictureAlicia Ferreira

How to prepare for college in 11th grade

When talking about college applications, there's no such thing as too much preparation. The process of getting into college is tricky, it takes time, and it can be mentally exhausting, especially when considering all the big decisions that come with it. With that in mind, your fellow senior give some personal advice on how to successfully prepare for college applications while being a junior. Observation: this article applies mostly to those seeking to apply for the US.

The first advice would be to keep up with your College Prep classes and the content assigned by the College Counseling Team (CCT). Even when the activity seems to make no sense at all, do your best to complete it; the people behind it know what they're doing and you should trust them. As boring or useless as the assignment sounds, don't take it for granted; it might (and probably will) come in handy in the near future – take this from someone who can now see how useful they are.

Secondly, the most important thing you could do as a junior regarding college applications is figure out the kind of school you want to attend, where you would like to live, and the cost your family can afford. This is one of the hardest parts of this process because it includes making all these big decisions; however, it is also the most helpful one, since it will narrow down your options, facilitate your research, and ultimately pave the best way for your applications. An important step that becomes incredibly applicable is completing a spreadsheet of the colleges you intend on applying to. In this spreadsheet, you can include information about each college such as student body size, the type of school (public or private), tuition and costs, their degree programs and if they have your major, the amount of scholarships/financial aid available for international students, and so on. This document will become your best friend, as it will be a source of quick information and storage of your research, ultimately helping you decide which schools you will actually end up applying to. Furthermore, something else you can get out of your way in 11th grade is asking teachers for letters of recommendation. It is good to get this process out of the way because it takes a while: teachers already have plenty of work to do, so it's ideal to give them a reasonable amount of time to write your letter of recommendation before the due date comes. From previous personal experience, it works if you ask them personally in May, send an official written request in June and establish a deadline for September of your senior year. Finally, you might want to check if any of the colleges you're applying to require proof of English proficiency – if so, it is important to see which exams they accept (like TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo, or even the SAT) and take the test as soon as possible. These measures are ways to make your senior year easier regarding college applications: preparing (and stressing) in junior year will allow you to sit back and enjoy being a senior without having to worry too much about applying for college.

If you read this article and felt overwhelmed about all the stuff that needs to be done before actually applying to college, do not worry. Anxiety is completely normal during this process; it is not easy to make all these life-changing decisions at once. Although this may not be comforting enough, all that can be said right now is trust the process. You will not be alone during any of this. The goal of this article is to show – from the perspective of a senior in the midst of college applications – some of the necessary steps that can (and should) be done during 11th grade, so that this process can be more organized and easier for your future self.

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