College Corner: Finishing the school year strong

Published on Monday, 20 January 2014 17:18 - Written by DONNA SPAN Guest Contributor

The holiday glow has worn off, and now students are settling into the second semester. And while January may be a time when many students get the blahs — and are already dreaming about spring break — it’s also a great time to focus on the big picture. Whether you’re a freshman just getting used to high school demands, or a senior already dreaming about starting a new life in college, this is the time you need to buckle down and get back to work.

Seniors: It’s not over until it’s over. Even if you’ve already gotten the acceptance letter to the school of your dreams, now is not the time to slack off. Some colleges and universities will require a mid-year transcript, and virtually all schools will require your end-of-year transcript, so they can see your final academic standing.

Less than stellar grades this semester probably won’t get you booted from your college, but they might make a difference in scholarship selection. Some schools do retain the right to rescind an admissions offer should a student’s disciplinary or academic standing decline. Of course, if you’ve been admitted on a probationary basis, or are still waiting for that acceptance letter, you have an extra incentive to keep working hard this semester.

Finally, if you’re still awaiting a college acceptance letter, or if you’re not thrilled with where you’ve been accepted, there’s still a small window. Some schools accept applications until February 1.

Juniors: Buckle up; the second semester of your junior year is typically a tough one. It’s also one of the most important of your high school career. Your cumulative GPA and class rank at the end of this semester will be used on all of your college applications next fall, so keep up the hard work and finish strong.

Freshmen/Sophomores: College may still seem a long way off, but if you’ve been watching your older siblings and friends, you probably already realize the pressure they’re under — and hopefully you’ve seen how important it is not just to finish strong, but to start strong too. Remember, your high school transcript is cumulative, so even a couple of C’s or D’s earned in ninth or 10th grade may come back to haunt you. Stay focused and study smart so you’ll be ready for those tough junior- and senior-level courses.

All students: Let the new year, with all the promise and hope of a clean slate and a fresh beginning, inspire you to be an even better, more engaged student. Evaluate your study habits and your organizational methods. If you’ve gotten sloppy or started making careless mistakes, identify areas where you need to make changes. Resolve to spend at least an hour or two every week improving yourself intellectually — perhaps by reading an unassigned newspaper or novel, or attending a lecture or art exhibit. Your vocabulary and your self-confidence will soar, and you may even find a new interest to explore.


Donna Spann is CEO of Capstone College and Career Advising in Tyler. A college advisor for 11 years, Donna leads a team of professionals who take a personal approach to advising that helps students navigate through career and college exploration, admissions, and find the college that’s right for them.