All the books have been put away, the exams are a fading memory and rising high school seniors are breathing a collective sigh of relief. School’s out for summer. Time to sleep in, visit with friends, go on vacation, and, maybe even work. They can worry about the college admissions process later. Right?
Wrong! If that’s all that your rising senior is doing this summer, they could experience a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety early in their senior year as they try to juggle all of their academic responsibilities with requirements for the college admissions’ process.
Most admission deadlines to competitive schools are early in the fall, which means your child could be scrambling to complete applications, write essays, and secure those teacher recommendations while trying to complete their daily class assignments.
And, if your student is in sports, juggling school expectations with sports AND the college admissions process can be doubly difficult! It’s no secret that the process of applying to college has gotten more complicated and college costs have skyrocketed.
Here are six steps that your student can take this summer help them with the college and scholarship process and help them alleviate stress and enjoy their senior year:
1. Develop a preliminary list of colleges and plan college visits. Plan on visiting at least one campus while you’re on vacation and several others before the senior year begins. Many high school students have an inaccurate idea of what a campus is like. I’ve even had students who thought that all colleges offer all majors. Not true. By visiting several campuses, students gain insight into what they want in a college campus and what opportunities are available to them.
Summer is usually not the ideal time to visit campuses because there aren’t many students there. But it may be an ideal time for most students and parents because their schedules are more flexible. Contact the college to set up the visit and make sure there will be an informational session included with the guided tour.
2. Read. Most experts point to reading as the best way to improve vocabulary and prepare for the SAT or ACT. Many colleges have suggested summer reading lists. While visiting the campuses, ask for a copy of that list and pick one or two books to read during the summer. A couple of the required reading books for students over the past two years are: “I am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai and “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot.
3. Collect reference letters. Normally reference letters come from teachers who worked with your student in their junior year. Teachers usually appreciate having the extra time over the summer to write a reference when the memory of the student’s achievements is fresh.
4. Complete one college admissions application. Think of this step as a practice for completing the applications in the fall. The Common Application, is accepted by hundreds of colleges and may be a good place for you to start. Don’t press the submit button now. You’ll definitely have time to do that later.
5. Write a generic admission essay. Completing the college application packets can take as much time as a regular class during your senior year. The summer is a good time to review the writing prompts and the essay requirements from colleges.
Then write a rough draft of an essay that you feel would satisfy the admission requirements. Understand that this is a rough draft and you will need to revise and edit your writing several times before it’s polished enough to send with your applications.
6. Choose ACT or SAT. If you haven’t yet taken one of these tests or if you need to retake an exam to improve your scores, now is the time to sign up. Most colleges have admissions deadlines in early November. Sign up over the summer for the earliest test date in the fall. The first deadline to sign up for a fall exam is July 28, 2017. Then start practicing. Practice questions can be found on both the ACT or SAT websites. You don’t have to take both exams but you ‘should’ take at least one of the exams twice.
Confused or overwhelmed about the college process? I can help. Contact me at: Dianne@launchingcollegesuccess.com or 240-285-1920.