How to succeed in 12th grade

The first pressing priority for high school seniors is managing their college application process.

This involves a number of priorities, and parents and students can easily lose track of things during the harried rush to assemble and submit applications. Students should track this work in one central place, noting the deadlines and required components for each college they’re choosing to apply to. This includes required and recommended admissions tests; besides the SAT/ACT, there are still a handful of selective colleges that require particular SAT Subject Tests for admissions. Sorting out the required admissions essays is also a critical consideration. Students may find that what originally appeared to be 5 different essays can actually be only 2 different core concepts that they need to develop. Getting the appropriate help on writing these essays is key for putting a best foot forward in representing their story to college admissions officers.

Students need to stay motivated and learn to embrace change during senior year.
“Senioritis” is real, and must be counteracted.

To effectively fight off this decline in interest and motivation, students can connect the work they’re doing in class to their personal interests, maintain a daily or weekly checklist of required tasks, and try to get adequate sleep on a nightly basis.

Retake tests for point improvements.

A 50-100 point improvement on the SAT can meaningfully impact students’ odds of gaining admission. Students’ brains are still actively developing the skills these exams assess.

Think like a college student.

The concepts and skills developed during AP and IB coursework directly lead into college-level material, and a student’s willingness to truly engage in this work and achieve their best will set them up for success at the college level.

Learn more about APs

AP Test Prep

Grades still matter, even after applications are submitted!

While colleges initially only see a combination of 9th-11th grade grades, plus a mid-year check on senior year grades, it’s a fact that most every college will require students to submit a final grade report.

It’s not unheard of for colleges to rescind acceptances when students exhibit a drop in grades during their senior year. Beyond the admissions impact of grades, they also serve as an indicator of continued motivation for academic achievement and reflect continued development as a learner.

There’s no single best path for seniors as they transition out of high school.

For some students, a direct transition to a four-year college or university fits their academic profile best. Other students with less competitive grades and test scores may actually benefit from attending a 2-year junior college and then transferring to a four-year institution to complete their undergraduate study, though they should be encouraged to develop the right study habits and motivation for that path. Another option that is gaining traction is the “gap year”, where students can travel, volunteer, or complete an internship. If this is a path that interests students, they should be considering why they’d take the year off – and ideally, the reason would be to answer questions about themselves and their direction in life.

Opportunities for Growth

A Students

Senioritis is real, so it is necessary for high achieving students in 12th grade to continue the habits that have allowed for success to this point. This is important as an erosion of good academic habits now can continue to manifest itself once students make the transition to college. Now is not the time to reduce academic effort.

Continue to develop a growth mindset. One way to keep high achieving students motivated during this time is to solidify a mindset that allows them to gain pleasure in the challenge of finishing with the highest possible Grade Point Average or achieving as greatly as possible in their extracurricular activities. This mindset development will serve them well in college and in their later careers.

Exploring talents and interests is essential. As students will soon be entering college and having the opportunity to decide on a career path, exploring as many options as possible is essential. Students before and during senior year should also be researching and visiting colleges to learn how offered programs might align with their interests.

B Students

Keep developing foundational skills and content knowledge that will translate to college. While students receiving B grades while in high school may not finish at the top of their class in regards to Grade Point Average, they are still demonstrating knowledge of many of the curricular skills that will help them succeed once they enter college. It is important to thus not reduce academic effort during this time, as any remediation that students must do upon entering college will make the transition more difficult.

Develop study habits and time management skills that will translate to college. Once a student enters college, they have the opportunity to start from scratch in the area of academics, and particularly in Grade Point Average. Thus, increasing the quality of study time now will allow for students to hit the ground running, which is essential considering the number of potential commitments on their time once they matriculate.

Continue to explore passions. For students, one of the most exciting aspects of college attendance is the number of opportunities that are made available to them. Students can use the time while still in high school to consider what avenues they may want to explore the following year.

C or Below Students

Spend time developing fundamental academic skills. Student that have received lower grades to this point in high school are not constrained to their identity as a “C Student” or a “D Student.” Many times, these students have not been exposed to the type of tailored, individualized attention that can build confidence and curricular knowledge. Students that matriculate to a college that may not be their “dream school” still have the opportunity to achieve strong grades at the outset of college and transfer to a college more of their choosing.

Dedicate time to developing study habits that will pay dividends in college and beyond. For students that have struggled academically in high school, college provides a unique opportunity to start fresh in regards to their academic transcript. It is thus essential to make use this final year of high school to explore ways to increase the quality of study time, especially considering the fact that the conclusion of high school will bring more, not less, potential distractions for students.

Use this time to discover passions that students can continue to explore upon graduation. One of the reasons that students have not engaged academically to this point in their studies is that they have not discovered their interests and passions or they have not connected their interests to the work they have done in the classroom. It is thus essential that before these students leave high school, they are exposed to as many options as possible to provide a post-high school pathway to success.

Is your child on the
right track for college?

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