There is no doubt this is an unusual time to be a high school student. Although college planning may feel different right now, it most likely it hasn’t changed your student’s aspirations and goals for the future. Understanding how they can still pursue their college goals, while recognizing what’s changed, can help your student focus their time on activities that will make the greatest impact. In this blog, we share the latest advice on how your student can strategically use their time in high school to gear them up for success in college. Take plenty of academic courses every semester! The College Board recommends that students should strive for a minimum of at least five academic courses per semester. Colleges are looking for students who have challenged themselves academically in high school, laying a strong foundation for courses that will prepare them for college. This should include four years of English, three or four years of lab science, at least two and a half years of social studies, and world languages and arts courses. Don’t be intimidated by AP courses. Your student may be nervous about the idea of taking an AP course, but there are countless reasons to encourage them to pursue one this year. Taking AP courses can help build their skills and confidence. They can dig deeper into subjects that interest them, and creatively learn to solve problems and address challenges. More than 85 percent of colleges and universities report that a student’s AP experience can positively impact admission decisions. Even more, research shows that students who receive a score of three or higher on AP Exams tend to experience greater academic success in college and have higher graduation rates than their peers who did not take AP courses. Pursue a world language. As we already mentioned, colleges are looking for students who pursue a full academic program. And this includes world language courses. There are many different world language options for Apex Learning Virtual School students, including Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, German, and Latin. ALVS world language courses are designed to create excitement through relevant cultural activities that engage your student. Make sure student athletes take NCAA-approved courses If your high school student is planning to pursue sports in college, you will want to be sure they are taking NCAA-approved courses. ALVS helps thousands of student athletes meet National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) initial eligibility requirements each year with our full catalog of flexible courses so they can play in Division I or II college athletics. Offering more than 100 NCAA-approved courses, ALVS helps your student leverage their expertise with NCAA Core credit and GPA requirements to create an individualized graduation plan that you your student can complete at their own pace. Embrace distance learning as the ultimate college readiness program. Encourage your student to view this unusual time in life as an opportunity to increase their self-discipline, and identify systems for staying organized, to help prepare them for life in college. Learning essential time management and study skills now, which are important for college and career success, will benefit them in the long run. Changing application processes. Has your student confirmed the current policies and application requirements for the colleges to which they are applying? The pandemic has changed many long-held beliefs when it comes to applying to college, including the requirement of standardized tests like the ACT or SAT in some cases. It’s worth confirming the application submission guidelines to ensure that your student is following directions and the recommendations set forth by the university. Consider community service and other ways to stand out. As the emphasis on standardized test scores lessen, other application components may grow in importance, like community service or the strength of your student’s essay. Be sure your student paints the full picture of their unique attributes, character traits, and experiences in their submission and the diverse interests they will bring to campus life. Be cautious about writing a “COVID” essay for your application. Admissions officials caution that focusing on how COVID-19 has impacted a student’s life in an application essay could be a mistake. Nearly everyone has been impacted by the pandemic, and many of us, including many admission officials, are ready to talk and think about something else. A recent NPR article shared this advice, “Schools said that (students) should think twice before submitting 650 words on “How I Spent My COVID-19 Staycation.” As Tulane’s Schiffman cautioned, COVID fatigue is real.” To learn more about how we can help your student get college ready, visit: https://www.apexlearningvs.com/learn-more/.