I will often start working with younger students when there are questions about course selection: AP vs. IB, dropping out of IB, switching schools from private to public or vice versa. Since the rigor of a student’s curriculum and their performance is the single most important factor in the college review process, these are very important discussions and decisions.
Families frequently ask me when they should get started in the college admissions process. The truth is that this decision is very dependent on the student. If they are motivated and excited about what’s involved in their next step after high school, then freshman or sophomore year is a fine time to initiate the process. The earlier a student begins, the less stressful the process becomes. Students can begin researching colleges during their freshman and sophomore years and not feel crunched to research and visit every college over spring break of their junior year.
With my younger students, we talk mostly about what careers and campuses they like and don’t like and we don’t focus on the selectivity of specific schools or the competitiveness of the process. Also, since colleges look closely at a student’s extracurricular experiences, we talk a lot about how they are using their summer breaks and what leadership or entrepreneurial roles they anticipate taking on in their later years in high school.