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Balancing All Your Lists

I’m impressed when my students tell me about the lists (often color-coded) they keep to manage their busy lives. I get it–high school is full of academic, extracurricular, and social demands, especially as junior year moves to a close. Excelling in your courses and studying for AP tests (if you’re taking them) tops the lists. Spring sports, DECA and Robotics competitions, and dance recitals require hours of practice before final events. Time for activities outside school (jobs, personal research/study, etc.) becomes tighter. Even prom prep is more demanding!

Then come college-related commitments. For many students, meetings with the test prep tutor and taking repeated practice tests (the real key to raising your score) are required.

Relax a bit and find balance. Here’s my suggested order of priorities:

Academics: you will get your final GPA–that goes on your transcript sent to colleges–in June. This includes AP and other tests you take.

Do Extracurriculars you love: Focus on those that matter most to you and let those go that don’t. However, choose wisely if they relate to a possible major or career.

Standardized Testing: Nearly all colleges will remain test-optional, except for Florida and Georgia public colleges and MIT (a few others still haven’t made announcements). If you’re applying to large state colleges, those that were test-optional prior to the pandemic, or after a few tests, your scores are below the 50th percentile for your colleges, it’s ok to cross testing off your list.

College visits: for those who find the time or manage to snag the few campus-visit openings available. Visit, but plan smart–many families schedule trips to Boston or Washington without considering if the schools there are good options. Time is precious! My slate for juniors is full, but I am happy to meet for an hour to help you.


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