TODAY   |  September 06, 2011

When does the college admissions process really start?

Katherine Cohen, CEO and founder of IvyWise, gives advice on what college-bound high school students should be doing now to prepare for the competitive process of applying to colleges.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this morning on education nation today, it's back to school for millions of high schoolers all across the country. if your kid wants to go to college there's a lot he or she should be doing right now to get prepared for the competitive admissions process. college admissions expert, founder of "ivy wise" is here to help us. good to see you.

>> good to see you.

>> when should the college process really start?

>> colleges are going to evaluate everything from ninth grade on.

>> really?

>> they look at your transcript courses, grades, activities, even summer experiences.

>> freshman in high school , too early to fill out applications but what should they be doing right now?

>> students are not going to start filling out applications until the summer before senior year. freshmen can create a four-year plan. go in and get to know your high school guidance counselor . ask them, help me map out the next four years of courses i'm going to take. based on your abilities take the most challenging courses available.

>> extra curricular plays a part, too?

>> exactly. find ak ctivities that truly match your interests and go after them. the clubs, the organizations, hopefully you can find a few things that you can get involved in. if you can't, start something yours. i say if you can't find it, found it.

>> very good. if there's a club that doesn't exist, start it up.

>> exactly.

>> so now we move to sophomore. a year of high school under their belt. do they start practice test taking?

>> they should. we actually tell our sophomores to take a practice s.a.t. and a.c.t. see which they score better on and practice slowly piecemeal instead of m kraing right before they take it junior year. you also want to think about grades. think about grades every year. hopefully your grades are on an upward trend.

>> is it too early at this point to start as a sophomore to think about what college you want to go to?

>> you can do no pressure research. go online and look at a lot of colleges and see what they offer and see what you like. if your family is going away on a vacation for a weekend an there's a college nearby, go visit it because you want to see what you want and what you don't want in a college community.

>> now you're a junior. this is the time that you really have to start power meeting with your guidance counselor and your teachers.

>> these relationships are so important. you want to nurture your relationships with your teemachers and high school guidance counselor becauses that are the people that will be writing letter of recommendations on your behalf.

>> how far along should juniors be in their windowing down of their college lists?

>> more research junior year. they're going to be liking at courses, professors, activities, research and internship opportunities at these colleges. also visiting colleges more seriously. it's a great time to go during spring break of junior year because it's while school is in session. if you go in person do the information session and the tour and let the school know you are there.

>> so now you're a senior. it's been four years. what should you be doing?

>> even before senior year, the summer before senior year you can make sure you have your college list together, make sure it's balanced, reach target and likely schools. make sure they're academic, social and financial fits. start working on your applications, writing your essays, getting your resume together. it's time to put the calendar together with all the deadlines and requirements for each of your colleges. students are applying to ten plus colleges a day.

>> i was going to ask you. when i went, my school accepted me. today i hear about these kids, 10, 12 colleges, is that too much?

>> it isn't because it's so competitive to get in today and you really want to make sure you cover your bases. you have to make sure you keep track of everything that happens in the process. also you're going to be apply for scholarships and financial aid senior year.

>> what's the cost of a application today? it.

>> can be from $35 to $75. you can also get a fee waiver depending on your family situation. but also, last tip for seniors. don't let your senior grades fall.

>> good plan.

>> yeah. exactly. don't get senioritis because colleges can rescind those admissions.