Timeline for Middle School Students…
At this point you should be thinking about the long-term consequences of your course schedule. For example, it used to be the case that female students were encouraged to take courses in home economics instead of political science, economics and history. This ultimately put women in a disadvantageous position a few years down the line, when their male counterparts had already completed courses in economics and political science and were taking advanced placement classes in those subjects – or doubling up on their mathematics and science courses because they had already satisfied the social science requirements of their high schools.
Thinking about the long term is what we do best at Entablature. As such, we want to keep you from making little mistakes today, because they can result in big problems tomorrow.
Timeline for 9th Graders...
We will identify your weaknesses and strengths immediately and develop a blueprint for eradicating the weaknesses and enhancing your strengths. We will help you with your course selection, even considering summer school options if that will work to your best interests.
Timeline For Secondary School Sophomores…
In the fall of your junior year you will be taking the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT), otherwise known as the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT). It would not hurt to begin preparing yourself for the exam with some SAT practice books, which you can find in your local bookstore or online.
If you are enrolled in AP courses, do plan on taking the AP exams in the spring if you are doing well in the course (i.e., B+ or better). A score of 4 or 5 can get you college credit at the school that you decide to attend. Might as well start banking these scores right away!
The summer after your sophomore year is the best time to start visiting campuses. This will enhance your understanding of the college application. Those visitations will also motivate you accordingly.
Timeline For Secondary School Juniors…
First thing in the fall is that PSAT exam. If you’ve prepared for it during 10th grade, there will be no surprises here.
In the October to March timeframe, there are a number of items that should be on your to-do list:
You should be planning on taking the SAT and or ACT at least once by January of your junior year. This will give us time to focus on weaknesses manifest in the results.
If you are enrolled in AP courses and doing well in them (i. e., B+ or higher), register for the AP exam as soon as possible. They are given at the end of the school year. You should always take AP exams the spring that you complete the corresponding AP course.
Start thinking about which SAT II’s (subject tests) you need to take. It is generally a good idea to take SAT Subject Tests the same year that you take the subject being tested. For instance, many students take chemistry in the 9th or 10th grade these days. If you have done so, take the SAT II in chemistry at the end of the corresponding school year.
In the spring, you will work with us to pull together your list of that “perfect dozen” list of schools to which you will apply. We want you to present well considered applications to your “perfect” schools. We will make certain that you don’t fall into the trap of force-fitting essays from one application to the next. This is bad form, and is usually spotted by admissions officers. We know of one year where some University of Chicago applicants were utilizing an essay question that appeared in the University of Pennsylvania application. The questions differed just enough such that it was clear the response was written specifically for the Penn question. Those applicants did not fare very well at the University of Chicago.
Timeline For Secondary School Seniors…
By the summer prior to your senior year you should have already visited most schools on your “perfect” list during your sophomore or junior years. Your pre-senior summer should be spent interviewing where possible, although most schools schedule interviews via their alumni networks after you have applied. This is also the final time to visit schools of interest. Campus visits give you so much more information than you could possibly glean from a catalog or website.
Before the autumn of your senior year, you should have identified your “magic dozen” and have started a rough draft of your essays. All of your tests should have been taken at least once by this point – including AP’s, SAT's and or ACT’s. If you identified a weakness in your testing last year, then the summer should have seen you investing time to prepare for the exams and shoring up your weak skills.
Come November 1, you should have submitted applications to any schools that you wish to hear from by December 15 if they have an Early Action or Early Decision option. We make certain applicants understand that utilizing the Early Decision track obliges you to attend the school should it admit you. We do encourage students to take full advantage of Early Action options because you are not obliged to attend the school if they admit you. And if they defer or deny your application, the result will serve as a good weathervane for your other applications. If it was your stretch choice, being denied may not be a surprise. But if you apply early to a school that we pretty much anticipated a ‘defer’ or ‘admit’ result, and you are denied admission, it will mean that we need to back up and look at the big picture. This has never happened in our experience because at Entablature, we work hard to develop a clear picture of your profile so that we can circumvent surprises of the bad kind. We love it, of course, when students are admitted to their “stretch” school!
By January 10, all of your regular decision applications will have been submitted - with few exceptions.
In the January – March period you should be waiting to hear from your schools of choice. In addition, please bear the following in mind:
You should ensure that your mid-year grades are submitted in January – and no later. These grades can push your applications over the hump. They are important.
If you have been deferred in the Early Decision or Early Action rounds, you have some work to do! Find out what they would like in terms of additional information. Sometimes an additional recommendation and another essay may be helpful, but this is a decision that we make on a case-by-case basis, since every applicant is unique and every school has its own way of dealing with such applicants. If you have taken any exams since applying and the results are superior to the scores that you originally sent to the schools in question, make certain to send your new scores.
If you are enrolled in AP courses and doing well in them (i.e., B+ or higher), register for the AP exam as soon as possible. They are given at the end of the school year. You should take AP exams the spring that you complete the corresponding AP course. As a senior, you may stand to receive credit for scores of 4 or 5 by the school you will attend. This will reduce your college course-load – or give you an opportunity to take a course you may not have been able to take. Hopefully the latter is the case!