Hey High Schoolers! Keep your head up!
The upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic is all around us. The world we live in has been dramatically altered, affecting millions of people in different ways, and high school students haven’t been immune to the disruption. Across the country, classes, standardized tests, and extracurricular activities have been modified, postponed, or canceled leaving a very different landscape for all students, let alone seniors looking to finish strong and prepare for college.
Despite the unusual circumstances and altered learning environments, every student should be given the opportunity to achieve academic success. To help prepare our students for the giant leap from high school to college, we’ve provided vital information necessary to stay on track for college and career after graduation.
Make a Plan for the Months Ahead
Given current uncertainties, we want to remind our students it is essential to use this time to your advantage. As you will certainly learn as the next stage of your education or career approaches, failure to plan is planning to fail. Make a plan and use the resources at your disposal. High school guidance counselors are a unique and valuable source; their primary responsibility is to help students excel. Counselors aim to help students thrive academically, personally, and socially and explore options after high school. If you are a junior or senior, we highly advise you to talk to your counselor and review your plan for graduation.
Stay on Top of Grades
AP courses can help strengthen your transcript; it’s important to ask your guidance counselor about Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Counselors can suggest classes that would be a good fit and help determine if you’re truly ready to take AP courses, as well as the course load you’ll be able to handle. Seniors must keep in mind that this year is crucial for GPA and class ranking. Attend class regularly and stay engaged to make the best grades possible.
Pick Up Extracurriculars
Outside of academics, having extra time after school is an excellent opportunity to get involved in clubs or programs and begin looking into leadership roles within these organizations. Extracurriculars provide you with growth and help you develop an interest in other activities in the future. They’re also an essential part of your college application – stand out amongst the crowd by excelling, not only in class, but as a leader in your clubs and teams to impress colleges and universities.
Understanding TSI and PSAT
The Texas Success Initiative Assessment (TSIA) is part of the Texas Success Initiative program designed to help colleges and universities determine if you ready for college-level coursework in areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. All students in Texas public colleges must take the TSI Assessment unless the student qualifies for a TSI exemption. The TSI office is committed to helping students fulfill their requirements – making online TSI testing now available. Students should make testing arrangements soon, as spots fill quickly.
The Preliminary SAT (PSAT) is a practice version of the SAT exam and can also lead to more money for college. The highest performers on the exam are eligible to earn scholarships and even become a commended scholar, which can help with college applications. Most students take the PSAT at their high school in the fall of their sophomore, junior, or senior year. Ask a teacher or school counselor when the test will be offered at your school.
2020-2021 PSAT Dates
- Primary test day: Wednesday, October 14, 2020
- Saturday test day: October 17, 2020
- Alternate test day: Thursday, October 29, 2020
- Additional test day: Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Understanding ACT and SAT
Many colleges and universities base admission decisions on the result of standardized tests called the ACT and SAT test. High school juniors and seniors take these tests to demonstrate college readiness. The ACT test measures the knowledge that a student already has, whereas the SAT is used more as a predictor of what the student is capable of learning. Regardless of preference, all schools accept both the ACT and the SAT.
If you’ve already taken the SAT and ACT, you can retake it to improve your score, which will increase the odds of acceptance at the college of your choice and scholarship offers. You can register online or through your school. ACT and SAT fee waivers are available to eligible students. Students must select your test date and try to get your SAT registration finished as soon as possible; late registration accrues additional fees, and there’s also a cutoff.
2020-2021 ACT Dates
- October 10, 2020
- October 17, 2020
- October 24, 2020
- October 25, 2020
- December 12, 2020
- February 6, 2021
- April 17, 2021
- June 12, 2021
- July 17, 2021
2020-2021 SAT Dates
- November 7, 2020
- December 5, 2020
- March 13, 2021
- May 8, 2021
- June 5, 2021
As part of the My Plan initiative, we will strive to keep students informed on important dates and information for testing. “My Plan” is a community engagement initiative built specifically for students to provide comprehensive resources and support throughout the educational process. In the interest of moving students successfully from the earliest stages of education all the way to a successful career, our goal is to cultivate internal initiatives and promote external resources, utilizing partnerships to promote readiness throughout the educational process. In short, we want our community to be committed to helping our students prepare for the future.
Junior and senior year marks a turning point. For some, this time is when college planning activities kick into high gear. For others, planning for a career or for enlisting in the military requires careful forethought and action. No matter what comes next, the final two years of high school represent the culmination of years of education and the realization of a plan for academic success. Download this checklist for juniors and seniors to view tasks that need to be accomplished each step of the way in order to prepare for graduation and college. Additionally, parents can download this Family Action Plan for juniors and seniors to help their students stay on track.
Students, for extra support please reach out to your parents, teachers, coaches, counselors, or other trusted adults. The pandemic has placed extra pressure and challenges on all of us. Take care of your social and emotional health and keep your eyes forward. Adversity is merely an opportunity to overcome, and we believe you will do just that.