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5 Steps NOW to Prepare for the College Admissons Process

college admissions processAll 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.  Right?

Wrong! If that is all that your rising senior is doing this summer, then 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 recommenda-tions – all while trying to complete their daily classwork.

And, if your student is playing a fall sport, juggling school expectations with sports alone can be a challenge.  Just imagine how difficult it can be when college admissions requirements are added. Scholarship deadlines occur throughout the school year.  Plus it’s no secret that the college admissions process has gotten more complicated even as costs have significantly increased.

Here are five steps your student can take this summer:

1. Develop a preliminary list of colleges and visit. Plan on visiting at least one campus while you’re on vacation and several others before the senior year begins. Many high school college admissions processstudents have an inaccurate idea of what a campus is like. I’ve even had students tell me they think 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 is 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 is: “I am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai and “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot.

3.  Collect reference letters.  Reference letters normally 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 the 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 it several times before it’s polished it enough to send with your applications.

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