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A Senior Year Road Map for High Schoolers

You've waited for years, and it's finally here: your last year of high school. It may have crept up on you, or maybe you've been planning for it. Senior year is a crucial time to set the foundation for college; what you do during your senior year of high school can help you get into college and succeed your first year at university.

Where can you start? It's easy to get overwhelmed with everything you have to do, and all the options you have. For starters, here's a quick road map from write my paper 4 me to surviving your senior year and getting started on your journey to college.

Plan with a counselor
Take advantage of your high school's resources as soon as you can, and meet with a college counselor to plan your senior year. Not only do you want to make sure you'll graduate with a good GPA, but you'll also want to ask about college prep and honors classes that will help your application and directly impact your first year of college. A counselor can also help you pick your top schools, think about your college application essay, and explain your financial aid options.

Make a calendar
Your senior year is full of deadlines - don't rely on your instincts or luck to remember all the dates involved with visiting and applying for colleges, taking the SAT/ACT, and qualifying for financial aid. Buy a cheap calendar, mark it up with your senior year road map due dates, and put it in a prominent place. Another option is to use a calendar app on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop that you can bring with you when you meet a counselor; then, you can set it to remind you of deadlines days ahead.

Narrow your college choices
Hopefully you've already explored many options for colleges during your junior year. Now it's time to narrow down your list. There's no magical number for the perfect amount of colleges to apply to - 10 or more may be too many, while three or less is often too few. College admissions experts often recommend applying to between five and eight colleges. Applying to a manageable amount of colleges lets you visit most of them and add a 'personal touch' to your applications because you have the time to research them all.

Visit your top schools
College websites and information from your counselor and family can be useful, but a visit tells a lot: You get a feel for the campus, student life, college resources, and the surrounding city or town. You can explore housing options and have your questions answered by college staff and current students. If your choice colleges are far away, make time during the summer to visit. Ask about visitation days or special programs that you can take advantage of before planning your trip.

Take the SAT/ACT, if you haven't already
Even if you took the test during your junior year, it may be an advantage to see if you can take it again - statistics show that half of SAT test-takers will sit for the test again, and the majority score higher the second time around. If it's your first time taking either test, prepare to study in advance. Your score will likely improve because of the time you devote to memorizing vocabulary, practicing essay writing (if needed), and reviewing mathematics, science, and/or other subjects covered.

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