Your Teen’s Holiday Ready-for-College Checklist

By Huntington Learning Center

Parents of high school juniors and seniors, listen up. Holiday break is a great time to make sure your teens are ready to attack the home stretch of high school in order to get ready for college. Here are a few tips on how your college-bound teen can make the most of this holiday break:

  • Visit college campuses. Juniors and even undecided seniors could take a couple of days to visit any colleges or universities in their state—day trips or afternoon visits (depending on the distance). Classes might not be in session, but you and your teen can still take a self-tour of campus and the town and visit with any personnel that are available (e.g. financial aid).
  • Register for the next SAT/ACT. The next 2020 SAT dates are March 14, May 2 and June 6 and the next 2020 ACT dates are February 8, April 4, June 13 and July 18. There’s still plenty of time for your junior to prepare effectively for the next exam if he or she is trying to earn the best possible score before starting those senior year applications. Seniors applying to schools with March or later application deadlines could retake the ACT one last time in February to raise that score.
  • Take an SAT/ACT prep course refresher. With the earliest SAT/ACT date being February, December is the perfect chance for your teen to dedicate some time to studying. Have your teen call Huntington to explore our three levels of exam prep programs: premier, 32-hour and 14-hour. He or she could even start the work over break when things aren’t as frenzied.
  • Work on college applications. Have your senior pay attention to those college application deadlines—some might be as early as January. Holiday break is a great chance for them to complete all application requirements, fine-tune those application essays and make sure all sections of their applications are complete or close.
  • Follow up on recommendation letters. Your senior might have already requested recommendation letters from a teacher or guidance counselor, but with some downtime on his or her hands, it’s wise to follow up. If an application is due February 1 and your teen is hoping to have all materials submitted by January 15, the timing to check in with the recommender is perfect.
  • Check on outstanding tasks. If your teen is using the Common Application, have him or her review the Dashboard to make sure there aren’t any outstanding items that might require follow up (such as transcript requests or essay questions to finish). If your teen isn’t using the Common Application, have him or her check the specific college requirements to make sure nothing has fallen through the cracks.
  • Refine that scholarship list. Some scholarship deadlines have passed already, but not all. Your teen should revisit that list of target scholarships to remind him or herself of deadlines and requirements and use the weeks of holiday break to work on applications. When school is back in session and life is hectic again, your teen will be glad he or she was proactive.

Encourage your teen to use holiday break to get ahead on all of the tasks on the horizon for college. Before school is back in session, it is a good time to do so—and the effort in and of itself will help your teen get into college mode and finish high school strong.