As with so much in college admissions, it depends. It depends on the test scores; it depends on the rest of the student’s academic profile; it depends where they are applying. Sometimes I have a student who submits scores to one set of colleges, but not another. Deciding whether to submit scores is a nuanced decision but together we come to a determination that allows the student to present themselves in the strongest possible way.
Some colleges and universities admit students directly into programs or majors (for example nursing and engineering), while others allow students to declare their major as late as the second semester of their sophomore year. Even for students who apply undecided about their major, I still recommend that when researching colleges students find at least one class that excites them.
Selective colleges like to see four years of all core subjects – English, social studies, math, science, and foreign language. That said, there may be situations where, for a variety of reasons, a student will “drop” either a foreign language or science. In that case, I recommend a student replace that class with another academic class – so a fifth year of science or math for the STEM student or a fifth year of social studies or English for the humanities kid.
Yes! Summers are a wonderful time for students to explore their interests and dig deeply into an academic discipline or extra-curricular activity that excites them. Summers are a great time for a pre-college class, an internship, volunteer activity or job. Summers are also a time to recharge and relax, so I recommend a balance of enrichment and fun in the summer.
Students and families can certainly navigate the college application process on their own! But some families prefer the individualized guidance a college consultant offers, whether for academic and non-academic high school planning, essay coaching, list building or application preparation. While a college consultant cannot guarantee admission to any college or university, they can help make the process more streamlined and less anxiety producing. If you decide to work with a college consultant, make sure they are knowledgeable and ethical and a good fit for your family. Here is an excellent article about how to hire a college consultant.