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Recharged and Ready to Focus? Tips for Juniors and Seniors

It's been four days since I wrote more than an email reply to a client or a quick answer to a Facebook follower, but I am ready to get back to my normal schedule! My husband worked the entire Thanksgiving holiday weekend which meant that I was on full-time mommy duty and I didn't have a moment to spare. I couldn't wait to start writing again.

In fact, on my first full day back to work this week, I edited four essays, replied to two different sets of interview questions (one from a professional reporter and another from a student doing a school project on me—how cute is that?), and put together my long-awaited junior year guide (stay tuned as we unveil it in the coming weeks!). Looking back on my four-day hiatus, I realize that I needed it.

To be honest, I hadn't quite recovered from the November 1st deadline rush and my team was wondering if I was ever going to finish the junior year guide that was due weeks before. But one day back and I feel so energized and creative once again. It is a reminder to students that stepping away for short breaks is important to stay focused and inspired.
For those seniors who are taking a break after submitting their Early Decision and Early Action applications, this is normal and healthy. Your mind and body need it. While you may get very good news in a few weeks and you won't have to consider another college, you just can't predict admissions decisions, especially in 2018. That's why getting a jumpstart right now on the next round of essays is key.
You will be very surprised that once you get started, these essays are much easier to write than the previous set. Why? Because you know a whole lot more about yourself and how to write these essays the second time around.
Seniors, if you need a good plan to get back into the writing mode, here are some things to motivate you:
  1. This is a perfect time to start working on Regular Decision applications and essays. In fact, I have never met a student who regrets doing this before finding out they got admitted to their top choice in Early Decision or Early Action. If you are fortunate enough to be granted an acceptance in the early round, you quickly forget the time you spent on applications and essays that never see the light of day. 
  2. If you wait until you hear back about your Early Decision or Early Action application and you don't get admitted, you will only have about two weeks to get all of your Regular Decision applications out the door. It can get done, but it is stressful. Trust me.
  3. Review the supplemental essays you have already written for your Early Decision or Early Action schools. There is a high likelihood that you can recycle pieces or themes of these essays for future ones.
  4. Up your game. Remember that most Regular Decision rounds are more competitive so you want your essays to stand out even more.
  5. View those Regular Decision colleges as real and viable options. If you view those colleges as back-ups, your essays will reflect that.

"Remember that most Regular Decision rounds are more competitive so you want your essays to stand out even more." TWEET THIS

For those juniors who are already feeling testing-fatigue, follow these tips to keep it in perspective:
  1. Taking back-to-back SATs or ACTs does not yield the best results. No matter what those test prep tutors tell you, students who take time off in between each test see their biggest score increases.
  2. Spread out those tests over time! If you want to take the test twice during junior year, plan to do it in the fall or winter for the first time and then the spring for the second time. This "break" will give you a chance to recharge and refocus.
  3. The summer before senior year is a great time to take the test a final time or prepare for the test in the early fall of senior year. 
  4. You don't need to prep nonstop for these tests. Take a break after each test. Your brain and well-being need it!
  5. Return to test prep in advance of your next test with a fresh set of eyes and the motivation to crush this next test!
As I get back into my old routine this week, I am more excited to tackle projects that I have been putting off for weeks and months. Time away is crucial after a stint of working long hours and getting little sleep. But if you're like me, you miss it and you want to be productive once again. Over the years, I have learned that I am happiest when I am being creative. The time off and the time invested always translate into something grander, and it will for all of you as well.