Did you just finish your junior year of high school? Are you wondering what to do this summer to be prepared for the college process? If you answered YES to these questions, I've got a plan for how to use the summer months to get a headstart.
Here is a month-to-month schedule for rising high school seniors:
- Take a few days or even a week to catch up on sleep, friends, and life in general. Junior year is usually pretty stressful. Summer is a time to recharge.
- If you haven't done so already, line up something productive to do this summer. It can be for all or part of the summer. This includes jobs, service work, internships, independent hobbies, family responsibilities (like caring for a younger sibling), etc. If it's substantial enough in terms of hours of commitment and/or results, you can list this on your extracurricular activity list on your applications. The longer it's done or the more impact made, the better!
- Start writing down possible topics for your main college essay and write a first draft by the end of the month. What are the things that define you that are hidden beneath the surface? These ideas turn into powerful and meaningful essays.
BONUS: I recently hosted a Facebook Live Q&A all about the college essay. In case you missed it, here's the video and a recap.
- For every week of July, edit your main college essay. A great essay takes multiple drafts—usually around four. By the end of July, your main college essay will be done.
- Visit colleges! It's the only way a student can be sure about "fit." A growing number of selective colleges track whether a student visits their campus. These colleges value a student's "demonstrated interest," and this can impact the admissions decision. Even for the highly selective colleges that do not use demonstrated interest in the admissions process, visiting their campus will help the student write the college-specific essays found on the supplements.
- If you are planning to take the August/October SATs or Subject Tests or the September ACT, carve out time to review testing strategies, go through sections of the test, and take full-length practice exams.
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- Fill out applications. The Common Application will be updated on August 1st. Colleges with their own applications usually release them around the same date.
- Continue test preparation if you plan to take more standardized tests in August, September, or October of senior year. This should be done consistently, if not every day then every few days.
- Visit a few more colleges and finalize your college list. Most students applying to selective or highly selective colleges will submit 6 to 12 applications.
- If you plan to apply to an Early Decision or Early Action program, begin working on the college's supplement. The supplements are updated on the Common App on or around August 1st. These supplements usually require the student to write additional essays, especially for the highly selective colleges.
The summer between junior and senior year should be filled with fun, focus, and future planning. The more a student gets done over the summer, the less stressed they are in the fall. Remember, senior year grades and classes are factored into the admissions process. Having the bulk of your college applications done by the end of the summer will allow you to have the senior year you have always wanted.