High School Prep for Economics Major- Junior & Senior Year

This is a key year for college bound high school students.  In addition to facing even more challenging classes, you also will take important college-entrance exams, assume greater leadership roles in your extracurricular activities, learn more about financial aid, and possibly finalize your college plans.

Remember that there is no let up in high school courses and activities as mentioned above.
  1. Take Advanced Placement (AP) Test in Economics. This is another way of demonstrating your preparedness for college study. Highly selective colleges in US like to see your AP score in Economics. A score of 4 or above gives you a good chance of getting selected into such colleges.
  2. Take the PSAT, even if you do not plan to take the SAT. There are two reasons. First, a good score can qualify you for merit scholarships. Second this can act as a practice test for SAT college entrance examination later.
  3. Take the ACT or SAT in the Spring. Taking the test during this time allows you to take the test again in the summer before or the fall of your senior year if you're not happy with your score. These standardized test scores are seriously considered by most college admission officials, so prepare well. Consult your high school counselor for recommended books, web sites, and classes to help you prepare.
  4. Study Financial Aid Terms and Procedures. Attend a financial aid information session at your high school, if possible, and develop a strategy for finding scholarships. Be wary of scholarship search services that charge a fee. Instead, use various web search engines and discuss opportunities with your high school guidance counselor.
  5. Attend College Fairs. Research about colleges by visiting their websites, reading college prospectus and brochures, have correspondence with the colleges of your interest. Review your priorities, research your options and narrow your list of prospective colleges to between five and seven by the end of the year. If your list is longer, it becomes difficult to keep track of admission procedures and deadlines.
  6. During Summer Vacation help an economics research scholar in entering data in her Excel sheet, assist an economics lecturer in typing his thesis or get a job with a research organization. This will increase your admission chances by demonstrating college admission folks your preparedness for the demanding study requirements of college economics.

High School Preparation Tips for Senior Year

The senior year at the school is most hectic – not only have you to maintain and improve your school performance but also to do a lot of writing, filling up and submission for colleges. Following the guidelines below may prove beneficial.
  1. Never allow your grades to drop during senior year. Maintain a challenging course load. College admission folks pay a close attention to your performance in the senior year and it is not at all rare for a college to withdraw an offer of admission if grades drop significantly during this period.
  2. Update your calendar. Make sure you stay organized and have all your important dates at one place. Having an overarching calendar will help you to remain organized and on track. Put all your application deadlines, scholarship deadlines, campus visit dates, test dates and all other important dates on your colander and check them regularly.
  3. Narrow down your choice of colleges to 6 to 8 based on your research. Collect application forms from them and create an online account with The Common Application if the colleges you are applying are using them. Ensure you visit campus of these selected colleges- “park yourself on the campus lawn” as they say- to gain a firsthand knowledge about them. On paper many of them may be looking similar.
  4. Get recommendations: Good recommendations are necessary for both college and scholarship applications. Colleges will have your grades, but they will be interested in knowing you personally. To ace this part of the application process, maintain good relationships with your teachers, coaches, and volunteer directors. Choose them who know you best, and ask them for a letter of recommendation. Be sure to give them sufficient time and to thank them when they have finished.
  5. Start working on your essay. With effect from 1 August 2013 there are 5 essay prompts as compared to 6 prompts earlier in Common Application. Also “Topic of your Choice” prompt has been removed. The length of the essay has been increased to 650 words from 500.  These new prompts are designed to encourage reflection and introspection. If your essay does not include self analysis then know that you have not fully succeeded in answering the prompt. So spend significant time in self analysis rather than mere description of the place or the event. Ability to analyze reveals one’s critical thinking ability and this is hallmark of a promising college student. When writing your essay, personalize it to the school of your choice. Including reasons for your interest in each school shows that you have put forth an effort and have done your research.
  6. Complete Applications.  The submission of application materials is the most important part of the college application process. Check college websites to know those documents that constitute the application package like recommendation letters, personal essay, transcripts, midyear report etc. Different colleges have different requirements. Ensure you fulfill those requirements.
  • Pay close attention to your grammar and spelling as you complete the required forms. Proof read them to make them error free, and make extra photo copies for your reference before sending them in.
  • Deadlines for an early decision are usually in early November. Regular deadlines are generally between January and February. Applying early is your best bet. You stand a better chance of getting in if all of your information is in before the deadlines. Near the cut-off dates, most admissions offices are swamped with entries. It is possible for things to get misplaced or lost, and having time to resend application materials is important.
  • Many colleges prefer online submission of forms. Do that. It saves you a lot of time. You need to fill up the form only once and that can be submitted online to as many colleges as needed. This is called Common Application.
7.    Complete the FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid that you and your parent need to complete together and there are deadlines involved. The federal deadline for the upcoming school year is June 30, and the state and school deadlines will vary.  In addition, some types of financial aid are first come first served, so it benefits you to get the FAFSA turned in early. You can submit your FAFSA online any time after January 1, 12.00am. Submit as early as possible.

8.    Take Standardized Tests. This is your last chance to appear and improve the scores in standardized tests. Register for and take SAT, or SAT subject test, ACT tests. Take AP tests in Economics. Ensure that you have requested the test conducting agencies, either by mail or online, to send your scores to colleges of your choice.

9.    Act on Early Selection. If you applied for early decision, you’ll soon find out if you were accepted. If you get in, you have to withdraw your applications from other schools. If not, keep your other applications out there and focus on those colleges.

10.    Compare financial aid packages. You should be getting financial aid offers from the college by March or April. This is your opportunity to begin narrowing down the colleges you are going to attend. If two colleges are very similar in your opinion, knowing what financial aid each one is offering can help you tip the scale in one’s favor.

You can appeal your financial aid offer. Do not hesitate to contact the financial aid office of the college to get more information.

11.    Wait For Results. Most colleges will let you know their decisions by the beginning of May. Once you have received the results, consider your options. Take into consideration your financial need, the location, and the reputation of each college before finalizing your college to join. Let each school know if you have accepted their offer as soon as you can.
  • If you have ruled out any colleges that accepted you, notify them. This is a courtesy to other applicants, and it will help the colleges manage their admission process effectively.
  • Go to accepted student open houses if offered.
  • Most schools have a deposit deadline of May 1st. Don't be late! If needed, you may be able to request an extension.
  • Send thank you letters to everyone who helped you in the application process. Let your mentors and recommenders know the results of your college search.
Admittedly, the application process can get a little tedious, but finishing feels great. Just sit back and relax. You have bagged it now.
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