Often, during this stressful time of year, we feel the most empathy for high school Seniors who are taking on more challenging classes, studying for another round of SAT, not to mention the NEW SAT test or tackling the ACT test. Making final touches to their college applications, requesting letters of recommendation, and trying to keep up their grades at school, all can amount to a very stressful time of year. However, current juniors, or the Class of 2017, will be facing even more hurdles and bumps in the next two years.
First, this cohort of students will be the most impacted by changes in the newly re-designed SAT. The current juniors took the PSAT during their sophomore year as a practice test based on the current SAT format, but the PSAT they will be taking during their junior year will be redesigned to reflect the changes on the new SAT. Unfortunately, due to the different versions of the PSAT that students will be taking, there is no way to measure their progress between the two tests. The first version of the redesigned SAT will launch in March, while the current SAT will be offered through January. It will be challenging for students to prepare for a standardized test that has never been released. Test prep companies and publishers of study guides are doing their best to create material and practice tests to best prepare students for the new SAT, but unfortunately, the College Board has not released any versions of the newly designed test.
Secondly, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) will also receive a makeover. Traditionally, students complete the FAFSA application in January of their senior year. Now, seniors (beginning with the Class of 2017) will have the opportunity to submit their FAFSA forms as early as October using tax documentation from the previous two years. The good news is that students will receive financial aid decisions earlier and it will allow the majority of students to use the IRS data retrieval tool, which will make it much easier to complete the forms. However, since it is still a new process, there is the anticipation of unforeseeable challenges and questions. In addition, students must add yet another item to their long “to do list” during the busy season of college applications during their senior year.
Lastly, the Coalition Application will be introduced to students for the first time. The Coalition Application is an alternative to today’s Common Application. It is a portfolio-based application students would begin building in 9th grade. “The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success” consists of eighty highly competitive and selective colleges collaborating to increase college accessibility and equality for underprivileged students. Ironically, in order to create and complete the extensive and prolonged portfolio during their freshman year, students will need a substantial amount of guidance and support. As a result, families may need to hire additional help, such as private college counselors, to assist with the process.
For the Class of 2017, the next two years will be challenging. Between the newly re-designed standardized tests, changes to the FAFSA financial aid application, and the introduction of a completely new application process called the Coalition Application, this cohort of college-bound students will become the trailblazers for the massive and pioneering changes undergirding the application process.
At Mill Creek Academy, we are committed to helping to ease this process and reduce the stress. With our organization, focused meetings, and clear objectives, we are here to ensure that your child is able to complete each part of the college process with their best potential. If you have any questions regarding this process, do not hesitate to contact us!