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5 Ways to Kickstart Your College Application Right Now

The school year is coming to a close and many students begin to question whether they have done enough this year. Some even worry if they are enough for this college process. They hear their classmates rattle off all the achievements they have had and the colleges they have already visited. Even the most self-assured students have doubts when they hear their friends talking about college prospects.

This past week, I met with an inspiring student who refused to give into the pressure and competition. After a debilitating injury a few years ago which affected her school work and academic performance, she decided to embrace who she is and what is right for her. She told me that her father's Hawaiian roots have taught her mindfulness, and that time heals all.

She's right. There is plenty of time for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors to make the most of the remaining few weeks of school and the upcoming summer ahead. If you are a student or know a student who feels behind on the college process, do not fret.

Here are five things to assure any student that time is on their side:

  1. Most high school transcripts only show final grades for each class. That means that colleges usually won't see if a student had a bad marking period. Students have a chance to improve their grades with a strong final quarter and final exam. All is not lost. In fact, a last push can make a difference.
  2. There are plenty of opportunities for students to be productive over the summer. They don't have to attend an expensive program on a college campus. Traditional summer jobs are rife with experiences. The more manual (or even menial) jobs for high school students are actually more impressive than some fancy internship.
  3. If a student can't find a job or internship, they can create their own project. These "homegrown ideas" are the most transformative to a student, their college applications, and future. Homegrown ideas are self-driven and self-directed. All the student needs is an idea they want to pursue, a plan, and the motivation to make it happen. This can translate into a multi-year project for the student or even a multimillion dollar idea down the road.
  4. The very best college essays are conceived and written over the summer after junior year. The student is much more relaxed and ready to tackle this important part of the application process once the school year is done. Anything written before that is typically not as nuanced or mature.
  5. It's never too late to prepare for standardized tests, visit colleges, or get serious about the college process. While some students start early on all of this, others need time to figure out who they are and what they want. This slower, thoughtful approach leads students down the right path for them.

"Stick to your own timeline for #college admissions and stay true to what is right for you" TWEET THIS

That student who impressed me with her perspective and patience reminded me that at 15, 16, or 17 years old, students can be true to themselves. Instead of comparing herself to what others have done, this student focuses on what is in her control. It is a good lesson for high school students who have their whole future ahead of them. One grade, one test score, one setback should never define them. It should only put things into focus and give them the motivation to be their best self.