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My Summer Checklist for Rising Seniors

Every year when July 4th fades in the distance, I feel like summer is just slipping away. There is so much I want to do before ordering new backpacks, lunch boxes, and school supplies for my kids' next school year.

I know I'm not alone. Just last week, a parent expressed what so many are feeling. She asked me if I could run through a checklist of what rising seniors should have done at this point in the summer and what's left to do.

If you are like this mom and want to make sure to stay on top of things, here are the big ticket items: 

1. I encourage students to ask two academic core teachers for letters of recommendation BEFORE the end of junior year.

However, many public high schools are not as proactive about this step of the process as private high schools. If the student didn't ask for letters of recommendation yet, they can contact their teachers via email over the summer or wait until the first week of school to ask.

2. If you are a member of Application Nation - Class of 2022, you have your Soundbite written or it's in the works. 

Soundbite is not only the title of my book, but it is my secret method of how students realize and maximize their distinctive qualities and act on them for the admissions process—and in life. It is the only way to truly stand out in an applicant pool and in every environment you find yourself in!

3. Students should have picked their classes for senior year.

Remember my 5-4 Plan which encourages students to continue to take all five core subjects even through senior year! Colleges are progressive in thought and educational programs, but they prefer a traditional curriculum for high school students.

4. An "intermediate list" of colleges should be in place right now.

An intermediate list is usually a bit longer than the final list. It includes colleges that the student is still exploring. Once the in-person and/or virtual visits are completed, though, students can begin to pare their intermediate list down to a more reasonable number. The final college list is usually not final until late summer or early fall of a student's senior year of high school.

5. Virtual or in-person visits should be taking place right now.

There are many colleges that use "demonstrated interest" in the admissions process. Taking a campus tour, attending an information session or open house, or having an interview (if available) are the most powerful ways to show a college you are interested in them. These steps will also help a student figure out if the college should make their final list. If so, these visit opportunities can also lead to stronger supplemental essays which are often required for the more selective colleges.

6. Pick the perfect topic for the main essay and start working on a draft right now!

The best writing takes place AFTER junior year of high school ends. With most colleges not announcing their new supplemental essay prompts until later this summer, students can work on the main essay first. 

Stuck on your topic? Download my free Ultimate Guide to Picking the Perfect College Essay Topic 

7. Have at least one ACT or SAT under your belt by this point in the summer.

If you haven't been able to take a standardized test yet, register for the August SAT or September ACT if possible. While many colleges have extended their test-optional policy this year, it is always smart to have at least one standardized test in case your college list changes or the college where you enroll asks for a score in order to matriculate.
If you want to know what else is left to do this summer, follow me on Instagram and join me on Friday, July 9th at 4:00 pm ET for my Instagram Live Q&A. This is my first one in a while and I will be sharing a few important steps! If you want more detailed advice, join Application Nation - Class of 2022 or Application Nation (for the Classes of 2023, 2024, and 2025) in order to stay on top of this rapidly changing process.