PrepWell Blog


How Your 11th-Grader Can Thrive in Quarantine

As the estimates for quarantining seem to get longer by the day, what can your junior PrepWeller do to thrive at home?

They may not appreciate it, but this downtime gives them unprecedented opportunities to get ahead in the college admissions process. 

My guess is that they've been slammed with schoolwork since September and have found it difficult to keep up with all their PrepWell videos and Journaling.

Well, kiss that excuse goodbye.

With weeks and weeks of downtime ahead of them, a meticulous review of every PrepWell video is a must.

Here's how they should be thinking about the next few weeks and months:

Standardized Tests

As we all know by now, your child's SAT or ACT score is a key factor in determining what colleges to focus on. If they have a 4.0+ GPA, but no legitimate SAT or ACT score yet, it will be difficult to determine where they stand on the college admissions continuum. Lots of students have 4.0+ GPAs.

Until they secure a solid SAT or ACT score, they are in limbo. Are they bound for a junior college or the Ivy League? We just don't know. This is why I have been so insistent on beginning the testing process early - so that if something unforeseen happens (like a worldwide pandemic) - they are prepared.

The coronavirus has led to cancellations of SAT and ACT test dates for the foreseeable future. If they haven't done so already, make sure your child registers for the next few available test dates (they will fill-up quickly). June is probably the last month available for registration as of today. Keep an eye out for updates and/or the addition of more testing dates.

If your child does not yet have a solid SAT score, and the June 6th SAT is canceled, your child may not get a legitimate SAT score until September. This will make it very challenging to determine what colleges to consider, visit, or even apply to.

Needless to say, it's important that your child studies for the SAT now.  They should not expect to take multiple tests. They should approach studying with a one-and-done mentality!

Especially given the current scenario, it is vitally important that your child is on top of their test-taking preparation and timelines.

Here are the PrepWell resources that directly address how to manage these issues:

PrepWell Academy Videos: Weeks 8, 10, 17, 34

PrepWell PodcastEpisode 12

PrepWell BlogpostSAT or ACT

Remember, if your child has not yet taken any SAT Subject Tests, they must prepare for those as well. These tests cannot be taken on the same day as an SAT, so that creates a timing challenge as well. They should be signed up for as many testing dates as possible. They may not be able to take their SAT Subject Tests until August or October. Remember, the SAT takes priority over the SAT Subject Tests. 

Timing and Pacing of Study

Our current quarantine gives your child ample opportunity to study for their standardized tests. This is even more imperative as they will likely not get several attempts to take the SAT or ACT. They should have a one-and-done mentality.

Now is not the time to "see how they do" before they start to study in earnest. That is a poor strategy that almost always backfires. The most conscientious PrepWellers will have already received a strong SAT or ACT score and do not have to worry about any of this. 

Pacing is also a consideration. If they don't take their SAT or ACT until June or July, it's prudent to spread out the studying so that they don't run out of test prep materials or peak too early.

No one knows what will happen with AP testing. AP tests are typically given in mid-May and we don't even know if we will have returned to school by then. Or, if we will return to school at all this year. Or, if the AP tests will even be administered. 

If we are back to school by May, students will not have been taught all the material that will be on the AP exams. My most motivated PrepWellers are teaching themselves the missing AP material in the hopes of performing well on the exams regardless of the missed classroom time. This could be a big differentiator for students trying to gain admissions to the most competitive schools. 

Please review my blog post on How A Navy SEAL Studies for the SAT.

Building a Target List

If your child already has a good SAT or ACT score or has a good idea where they will end up on one of these tests, they may be able to start building their target list of colleges. 

I review exactly how to do this in a series of PrepWell videos. Your child should review videos from Weeks 6, 19, 20, 21, 25, 39, and 41.

Brag Sheets

With all this time on their hands, there's no reason your child should not prepare their brag sheets for the teachers they will choose to write their letters of recommendation for college. A brag sheet is a mini-resume that provides the teacher with the relevant information they need to write a compelling letter of recommendation. I cover this in the PrepWell video in Week 24

LinkedIn Profile

Now would be the perfect time for your child to refine their LinkedIn profile. This exercise will not only help them when they begin to fill out their college applications this summer, but it will help them get a sense of how much they have (or have not) accomplished during high school. I provide a step-by-step tutorial on exactly how to do this in Week 11

College Essays

No, it's not too early to start brainstorming about college essays. In fact, my guess is that there will be a lot of college essays written about the "coronavirus quarantine". Some of my most astute PrepWellers are keeping detailed journals about what life is like living through this crazy time. I can see these musings being turned into winning college essays.

Your child can review the college essay prompts (8 of them) and begin to take notes on their ideas. My most motivated PrepWellers will have rough drafts of 1-2 college essays done before the end of Spring Break.  My PrepWell lessons on the college essay will open in their portal in a few weeks. In the meantime, the College Essay Guy is a great resource to get started.

Summer Contingencies

Obviously, we don't know what life will be like this summer. Hopefully, your child already has summer plans and we all hope these plans remain intact. In case they do not, I highly encourage your child to think about contingency plans. What can they do to demonstrate a willingness to go the extra mile even under these trying conditions? Maybe they plan to take several challenging online courses? Maybe they commit to reading 100 books on military leadership? I want them to think unconventionally. 

Scholarship Opportunities

Why not begin applying for college scholarships now? Most students run out of time (and motivation) when it comes to researching and applying for legitimate scholarships because the applications often require a writing sample. This scares away most students.

Now that your child has weeks and weeks of time on their hands, they can allocate time to applying for scholarships. They can think of applying for scholarships as a part-time job. Hopefully, if they apply broadly enough, they'll be compensated for their efforts. Check out

I know your child won't like to hear this, but they should search for the most onerous scholarships. The more required writing - the better. A more involved application means there will be less competition because most teens are lazy. 

Next Steps

Other than their health and helping as needed at home, the tasks I've listed above are your child's priorities. They should consume a lot of their downtime over the next few weeks. If they play their cards right, they will be light years ahead of their peers when things get back to normal. I highly encourage them to take these steps. What else do they have to do (that's productive) while sitting at home for weeks on end?

I will send an email (similar to this one) directly to your child as well so that they have their marching orders. What will your child do with this information? Take action and make the most of a challenging situation? Or, sit around swiping on their phone and laptop all day? This will be a defining moment for them and I hope they pick the right path. 

Please reach out to me if you have any questions. I know this has thrown a wrench into an already stressful time in your child's life. I hope I have provided some very specific guidance and resources to help your family. I hope PrepWell Academy has provided an organized and systematic approach to the college admissions process that can be accessed anytime/anywhere. 

Do not hesitate to contact me with questions - big or small. As many of you know, I have a 9th-grader and two 11th-graders living through this as well, so I'm right in the breach with you.

If your child makes the most of their downtime, it may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to them.

Keep prepping,

Author: PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's most competitive programs: Yale University, Harvard Business School, Navy SEALs, Goldman Sachs, Entrepreneurship, Shark Tank, etc.

Inside PrepWell Academy, Black teaches students everything they need to know about the college admissions process in a series of expertly-timed, 3-5-minute, weekly training videos starting in 9th grade and continuing through 12th grade [Note: this program can only be joined in 9th or 10th grade]. My specialties include military service academies, ROTC scholarships, Ivy League, and student-athletes.

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