Getting a head start on college applications

Over the next few weeks, school will let out for students all across the US.  It is an exciting time filled with the anticipation of long summer days, pool parties, amusement parks and sleeping in, but somewhere in all of that relaxation is the reality that college applications are just around the corner.  Senior year is a fun year, but is jam-packed for most students with increased responsibilities in the classroom and in their extra curricular leadership roles.  Summer is a great time to spread out the work that needs to be completed for college applications in the fall.

So, what can be done this summer?

  • By August a strong vetted list of schools should be ready to go. While college visits in the summer can be a little flat with campuses on the sluggish side, if you haven’t had a chance to get many visits done then use this opportunity to do so.  Just be sure to go in knowing that the energy on the campuses will be different than during the school year.
  • Essays, essays, essays!  The essays included in applications can be the most important part of your application!  The admissions counselors repeatedly share with me the importance of this part of the process—these essays should be written over a week or more rather than pumped out at the last minute.  The essays are an important opportunity for a student to consider what is important to them and what they want admissions counselors to know about them that is not otherwise found in their application. I regularly see students learn more about themselves during this process if it is done thoughtfully.  If your list of colleges is long and/or includes some highly selective schools be prepared to write a lot of essays!  Getting through a few of these during the summer can greatly reduce stress in the fall.
  • Resume!  Some applications allow a student to include a resume.  Having a resume ready to go when the student requests letters of recommendation is also very helpful.  A high school resume does NOT have the same requirements as a professional resume.  Colleges like to see how much time a student committed to each activity, leadership roles held and the way their interests took shape in their involvement.
  • Build a resume of activities! So, you created a resume and then realized it was a bit empty.  Now what?  You have an entire summer ahead of you to volunteer, build leadership, create a project, create a portfolio and more!  Don’t waste this summer-it is NOT too late!
  • A list of application requirements should be created during this time!  I use the last few weeks of July each year to create the deadline checklist for each of my students.  Take into consideration which application period you want to make application during (Early Action, Restrictive Early Action, Early Decision, Early Decision 2, Regular Decision).  Know and understand what each of these mean to your application process and/or scholarship opportunities.  The period you apply during also impacts when your decision is shared with you.
  • Not sure what you want to study?  This is a great time to consider your options!  Career assessments, such as the MBTI and Strong Interest Inventory can be a great starting point. Beyond assessments, job shadows and interviews with professors on campuses can help out a lot as well.  The good news is that you don’t have to know exactly what you want to do, but it is helpful to have some direction!
  • Get ahead on outside scholarship applications.  There are many scholarship search sites to help you with this.  Creating a system for making these applications and working ahead can make a big difference in your choices next spring.  I have many students who wish they had started those applications earlier so they knew if they were going to have these funds to help pay for their schooling-outside scholarships can open up choices you wouldn’t otherwise have due to the high cost of college.

I hope this list helps provide some ideas to get your summer off to a great start!  Complete a contact form if you would like more information about working with me to make this process effective and less stressful!

Robyn

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