High school rising seniors – this is it – your final summer before the college application madness begins this fall!
You should do these five things this summer:
5. Research colleges. Make your list bigger before you make it smaller. You just watched your senior friends get rejection letters, so you know how much that sucks. Go beyond the names you know; look at colleges your classmates might not be considering. Spend at least 2 hours per week this summer on college application related stuff; about an hour on research and an hour on the other stuff on this list. Here are some tips on researching college websites.
4. Finalize your testing plan. Will you take the SAT one more time in August or October? Or the ACT in September or October? Do you need subject tests? (Only a very small handful of colleges require or even recommend them – this list is very accurate). If you are done testing, SEND YOUR SCORES when your list is final. It’s one less thing to remember to do in the fall, and it sends the message to colleges that you have it together.
3. Write, revise and finalize at least one essay…but two or three would be better. Colleges learn A LOT about you from your essays – they give you an opportunity to share your motivations, strengths, and what you will contribute to their campus community. Many colleges ask some version of these two prompts:
- Why have you chosen the major you selected?
Basically, why are you interested in the academic areas you are drawn to now?
- Briefly elaborate on one of your extra-curricular activities or work experiences.
Can you use a story from one of your activities that demonstrates one of your more likeable personality traits?
Different colleges ask different versions of these questions, and they may have different word limits. But if you write (and revise) one 500-word version of each of these, we can almost guarantee you will have a chance to use them! You can also get started on a main Common App essay (prompts here), or if you’re planning to apply to UC schools, you’ll need to respond to four of these eight questions.
2. Finalize your list. Don’t forget to do #5 on this list before you get here. Regardless of your GPA and test scores, you should have AT LEAST two ‘likely’ schools on your list that you would honestly be happy to attend (see cartoon above!). Understand that colleges with admit rates below 30% are NEVER ‘likely’ for anyone.
This final ‘to do’ for summer is as much for parents as it is for students.
1. Choose one time per week to talk about college with your child. Only one. Not every day. Don’t talk about college constantly – everyone will get tired of talking about it and nerves will fray. If you set a specific time each week to have this conversation, everyone can be prepared. This tip will help everyone in your house keep their sanity during this process.