Back in college, I participated in a fitness and conditioning study. One measurement taken was endurance. It was measured by running on a treadmill that tilted up one grade and sped up one mile per hour at regular intervals. What does this have to do with college planning you may ask? Let me tell you how they are similar.
College-bound students have been convinced that all their courses must all be Honors, K-level, advanced, Pre-AP, AP, IB or something similar. This can make freshmen year difficult indeed. And after surviving the high school transition year, there is an even higher hurdle to clear in the sophomore year. In other words, the treadmill tilts up and speeds up a bit.
The junior year for high-achieving students is not for the faint of heart. In addition to all the AP and/or IB coursework, students have to worry about the PSAT exam in the fall and the SAT or ACT college entrance exams in the spring. Add to that AP and/or IB exams. The junior year begins to look like a minefield that many students fail to successfully navigate.
The dedicated bookworms can manage the academic stresses of challenging curriculum but when they add athletics, marching band, debate or a job; the 24 hours allotted to them in a day is no longer enough. All these “things” they do to impress college admissions committees become the focus and they forget that they are only a means to an end. The forest, which is college, is obscured by all those pesky trees – the classes and activities.
Students like this become too busy to complete proven tasks that will both ease the stress of the college application process and put them in contact with individuals who will directly affect the admissions decisions. I am left wondering if they expect that after a harrowing junior year, the senior year will be easier. The answer is an emphatic NO! The treadmill will tilt up another grade and speed up as coaches and sponsors look to the seniors for leadership and the coursework is more complicated than ever. Where do you wedge production of a superior college application file into such a schedule?
During my endurance test, we were instructed to run until we couldn’t take another step then grab onto the safety rails while the treadmill slowed and returned to a level position. There is no way of knowing if the student, who does not prepare for the college admission process has safety rails on their treadmill. A little planning can be better than safety rails. Take a step back, get helpful advice and make time to follow it before your freshman turns into a senior overnight.