September: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

Welcome back to school! It’s a new year with new challenges — academically, socially, and artistically. To help you adjust and adapt, examine future goals so that courses can be chosen to complement those goals and serve as good prerequisites for college. Explore all of your skills in the arts, and plan for extracurricular activities as well, allowing flexibility for new or growing interests. Taking control of all your options in high school can help build the confidence you need for success!

Junior Arts Students — Evaluate education options and artistic skills. 

This is a good time to begin to set a more specific path toward college goals. Do you want to pursue the arts as a major or possibly a minor? If so, you should consider meeting with a professional for an artistic evaluation. By knowing your strengths and weaknesses, you can focus on enhancing and elevating your skills to increase your chance to get into the best program. Also, register for the PSAT. It qualifies you for the National Merit Scholarship program, which means you could earn money for college. In addition, it’s great practice for the SAT.

Junior Parents — Set the bar. Make sure your child registers for the October PSAT.

This is the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship program and a good way to practice for the SAT. Go to the fair. Check into college fairs and high school visits from college representatives. Encourage your child to attend and to get familiar with the college resources available at school. Take note. If you haven’t done so yet, get a Social Security number for your child. And if your arts student is in need of specific counseling to prepare for college, it’s available.

October: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

The school year is still new, so it’s a great time to look ahead and plan ahead. Remember that your academic and performing or visual arts choices in high school should serve your longer-term goals as you prepare for college and beyond. Keep in mind that no matter what decisions you’ve made, or are about to make, you may want to refine your selections as you develop and grow. Stay focused, and at the same time, stay open to exploring new areas at all times!

Junior Arts Students — Build your list of potential colleges. 

Start by identifying the criteria that is most important to you about college such as academic majors, size, location, cost, and/or special programs. Weigh each of the factors according to their importance to you. Then list the schools that fit your criteria, and develop a preliminary ranking of those schools. You should attend college fairs and college nights and speak with college representatives who visit your high school. Search your top college options online, and based on your findings, either expand or narrow your list. Also, if you’re in the performing arts, it’s a good time to assemble your resume with a headshot.

Junior Parents — Stay on schedule.

If your child is taking the PSAT, make sure the date is marked on your student’s calendar as well as yours. Remind him/her to prepare for the test and to try some practice questions. At the same time, you can help keep this from being a high-pressure situation by planning for a fun treat after the test. Step on campus.Schedule a day trip to visit nearby colleges even if it’s not where your child will apply. The idea is to explore different types of schools. Start a discussion by asking about which characteristics your student either likes or dislikes about those schools.

November: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

Thanksgiving and the holiday season are fast approaching, and the school year is suddenly beginning to fly by. As a student of the visual or performing arts, this is your cue to take these next few weeks to get your projects, assignments, applications, essays, auditions, and portfolios in order. It’s a lot to handle, but it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming — simply give your full attention to one thing at a time. Enjoy the holiday, and remember to give thanks for all of your educational opportunities! 

Junior Arts Students — Formulate a testing plan. 

Note when you’ll be taking important tests like the SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, and AP exams, and mark the dates on your calendar.

Junior Parents — Take a drive across campus. 

Schedule a day trip to visit nearby colleges. Fall is a great time to look at schools because classes are in session and you can talk with students and professors. Don’t worry if these are places where your child won’t apply. The goal is to explore a variety of schools. Talk about the different types of schools with your child as well as which characteristics are appealing and which aren’t.

December: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

It’s just about time for the winter break and the holidays. Family and friends, who haven’t seen us in a while, will likely ask what we’re up to, and that’s a good thing because it’s the perfect opportunity to ask ourselves the same question. This is a great time to take stock to see if we’re on course to reach our academic and arts goals. Some of us may find that we need to take a step back and better define those goals. So take a little time to get on track and have a great holiday!

Junior Arts Students — Organize your college information. 

Set up a filing system, both online and offline, with individual folders for correspondence and printed materials from each college. This will make it much easier to locate the specific information you’re looking for when you really need it. And you will! Sign up for standardized tests. Find out if the colleges you are interested in require the SAT, ACT, or SAT Subject Tests, and register now to take the tests you need in the winter or spring. You can take them again in the fall of your senior year if you’re not happy with your scores.

Junior Parents — Look ahead and ask questions. 

Keeping test results in mind, help your child refine the list of colleges. If you or any of your friends or relatives have a college student at home for the winter break, make every effort to ask them questions about their college experiences and encourage your student to do the same. For performing arts students, this is also a great time to look into summer programs.

January: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

Happy New Year! Welcome to the monthly guide designed to help students of the arts with simple, step-by-step college preparation tips. As we make our new-year resolutions, it’s the perfect time for high school students to re-commit to pursuing the dream.

Junior Arts Students — Be proactive with your activities.

When it comes to extracurricular programs, colleges look for consistency and depth. So take your activities to the next level by taking on leadership roles and positions. Begin essays. Simply take the first step. Explore topics of interest. Once you identify a subject that matters to you, the writing will be able to flow more naturally.

Junior Parents — Communicate & evaluate. 

This can be a make or break year. Classes tend to be tougher than ever, so ask how it’s going and listen carefully. Continue to assess your student’s academic progress. Does everything appear to be going the way it should? If your child is having difficulty or could simply use advice, now is the time to help provide the support that he or she needs.

February: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

When the winter term is in full force, spring and summer can feel very far off, but don’t be deceived by the time of year. Keep up the pace and prepare for the not-so-distant future.

Junior Arts Students — Think summer and plan ahead. 

This school year is a pivotal one, and so is the upcoming summer. As a student of the arts, you can take advantage of a number of excellent programs to help get your know-how and skills up to college level. So don’t wait until summer to figure it out — you’ll be too late.

Junior Parents — Help your student find the right summer arts program. 

Great summer arts programs help students develop personally and professionally. As you and your child begin to research programs, you should ask how they will influence your children now and in the future. The summer choices for junior year students can have a real impact on college admissions.

March: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

March is a month of transition. While the seasons are changing, students are growing. As winter turns to spring, simple steps can help budding performing and visual arts students blossom.

Junior Arts Students — Organize and begin to narrow college options. 

To help you easily locate the information you need, set up a filing system with individual folders for college correspondence and printed materials. Make sure you have all of the key data for the colleges that you are considering (entrance requirements, tuition, room and board costs, course offerings, student activities, financial aid, etc.). Then you can begin to compare the schools by the factors that are most relevant to you. This is also a good time to review your resume and review your repertoire list as well.

Junior Parents — Help plan and prepare. 

Spring vacation is a good time to visit colleges, so plan for it. Encourage your son, or daughter, to start a college spreadsheet with a list of target schools. He or she should begin to contact colleges to request materials and set aside an area where they can be easily referenced. Also, if you didn’t do it last month, check upcoming SAT or ACT registration deadlines for tests your child still needs to take. Make note of the test and registration dates on your calendar.

April: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

Spring break is over, and we’re entering the home stretch of the school year. Much can be accomplished in these final months. Every step can be a difference maker for performing arts students in the search for the right schools, scholarships, and financial aid packages.

Junior Arts Students — Start a search for scholarships. 

Many types of scholarships are available, so spend some time locating the best ones for you. It’s worth the effort. For scholarships from local organizations check with your guidance office, and use online scholarship search tools to select from a wider range. Don’t wait to start looking for scholarships. Begin the process now so you know where to apply during your senior year. You’ll also want to plan ahead when visiting colleges. Call the admissions office to set up a personal interview, tour, and a meeting with a professor or coach if you’re interested.

Junior Parents — Talk, plan, and plan some more. 

Over the next several months careful college planning will be required, so keep the lines of communication open with your student. Plan all of your remaining spring college visits now so your student can see students on campus and really get a sense of college life when visiting. At the same time, don’t overlook plans for senior-year classes. Help your child select courses that matter, recognizing that colleges weigh senior classes and grades as heavily as they do for junior year.

May: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

Yes it’s true, summer will actually be here next month, and we’ll all be planning for the next school year. For high school students of the arts who want to take their craft to the next level in college, a little monthly college prep advice can go a long way. Many performing and visual arts students and parents are following simple steps to help navigate the complexities of the college admissions process.

Junior Arts Students — Narrow the college list and make appointments. 

Take a good look at all of the schools being considered, and based on the attributes that are important to you and your art, identify your top college choices. You’ll need to plan ahead, so now is the time to set up appointments to visit each campus. Call the admissions office to arrange a personal interview, tour, and a meeting with a professor if you’re interested.

Junior Parents — Prep for tests and explore options. 

Does your student need to complete the SAT and/or ACT? Make sure all deadlines and test dates are being met. Then it’s a good idea to see what you can do to help your child gain an edge. Investigate the possibility of services such as standardized test prep courses, independent college counselors, and private group tour programs.

June: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

Didn’t the school year just begin? It really does go that quickly, so do what you can to finish strong and begin planning for the coming year. Just remember, as you look ahead to the summer and beyond, enjoy the moment and appreciate all of the hard work that got you to this point. And keep in mind that each small step you take now will payoff in terms of setting the stage for the best possible college experience (and literally setting the stage for performing artists).

Junior Arts Students — Contact your recommendation writers. 

Teachers and guidance counselors get many requests to write recommendations for lots of students. Give them a heads up now so they’ll have time to prepare before getting tons of requests in the fall. Ask teachers who know you well and who will have positive things to say. Letters of recommendation from a coach, activity leader, or adult who knows you well outside of school are also valuable. Get your essays going too. Compose drafts of the essays you’ll need for your college applications. Have a teacher read and discuss them with you so you have a good sense of which areas need work.

Junior Parents — Double check one more time. 

Make sure your child is registered for anything that still needs to be completed. If your student has a test coming up, mark the test and registration dates on the family calendar. Think scholarships. Take advantage of the summer break by searching scholarship and financial aid websites with your child, or by checking out library resources.

July: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

Summer break is officially here, and it should be fully enjoyed. At the same time, with a few key steps, you can take advantage of the break to help set you up for success in the upcoming semester and well into your college years. For high school arts students who are in the midst of college preparation, you can accomplish plenty this summer and have a great time doing so.

Junior Arts Students — Visit your top colleges choices. 

Explore the campuses of a few of your preferred colleges. Take the official tour and speak with the admissions and financial aid staff. If summer classes are in session, see if you can speak with some of the students. Plan your performance auditions or visual portfolios. Each school has their own requirements and preferences, so learn as much as you can about them. In addition to getting the advice and perspective of admissions, it can help to hear what students have to say about a particular school or arts program.

Junior Parents — Use the summer to your student’s advantage. 

Don’t let the slower pace of the season keep your child from accomplishing key goals. By now, he or she should be accustomed to summer employment or other constructive activities. College admission officers like to know that students are spending their summers wisely. This is also a good time for visiting some college campuses and planning fall visits for others.

August: College Prep Timeline For The Arts

As we approach the final weeks of summer, anticipation is in the air for the school year ahead. By spending just a little time each month identifying your objectives, planning ahead, and taking action, you’ll be impressed by how much you can accomplish over the course of the entire school year.

Junior Arts Students — Start working now on your application essays. 

Compose rough drafts of the essays you’ll need for your college applications. The Common App is a free, online application used by over 400 colleges and universities, so see if it applies to your situation. It’s a good idea to have a teacher read and discuss essays with you so you can see which areas need work. Make revisions to your application essays and prepare final drafts. Remember to proofread the final essays. Then proofread them again.

Junior Parents — Help plan for submissions. 

Keep your child on track with test preparation, if needed. He or she should begin planning and/or assembling any supplemental submissions that will be needed, such as prescreen videos or portfolios. Review and update the list of target schools that you and your child have been developing. Record the pros and cons of each school.