Friday, May 20, 2016

Summer College Planning for Rising Seniors 2016

Summer is almost here! If you're a college-bound senior, now is the time to begin key college planning tasks and alleviate the stress and chaos of the coming fall admissions season. There are numerous ways you can use your summer break to get ahead of the curve on your applications.


1) Develop your college list. You've probably already done some research on potential schools and have even visited some campuses. Now is the time to gather your information and settle on a list of 6-10 schools. Be sure to include "safety" schools (where you know your acceptance is certain), "target schools" (where you meet the profile of an admitted student), and "dream" schools (colleges you'd love to attend but where less than 20% of applicants are accepted). If you have several "dream" schools on your list, you may need to add more "safety" and "target" schools to be sure you have a balanced list. 

2) Ask your teachers for letters of recommendation now. Most private schools and some public colleges and universities require at least one letter of recommendation. Teachers are slammed with requests for letters in the fall, so do them (and yourself) a favor and give them the chance to write during the relaxing days of their break. Before you leave for summer, ask two academic teachers who are very familiar with you and your achievements if they would be willing to write letters for you. Get their summer email addresses so you can email them the necessary materials. Be sure to ask if they'd like you to provide a "brag sheet" or any information that would be helpful to them in writing a stellar letter. 

3) Continue to pursue your extracurricular activities. It may go without saying, but don't drop your activities just because you're about to be a senior. Colleges love to see demonstrated commitment to a few activities over a significant period of time. If possible and your schedule allows, delve deeper into the extracurriculars you are already involved in. You might also consider getting a part-time job. Teenagers who work can be a rare commodity these days, and colleges find the initiative and maturity this demonstrates to be a plus. 

4) Start writing those essays! Your college essay gives admissions officers a chance to hear your unique voice and learn about who you are. It's an important piece of the application package and deserves your best effort. Before you begin, learn what colleges are looking for in admissions essays and how to write a piece that will stand out from the competition. You can find the Common Application essay prompts on their website; many other colleges and universities post their applications and essay prompts over the summer as well. 

5) Why wait? Work on your applications! The Common App and University of California applications go live on August 1, which means you can create an account and start completing the online application. If you're productive, you might even be able to submit all your applications long before school starts...and be able to jump into senior year relaxed and confident knowing that "college apps" have been checked off your to-do list. 

6) Consider The Coalition Application. The Coalition App is a new college application that many colleges are now accepting in lieu of or in addition to the Common Application. It is still in development and several components will roll out over the summer, but students can currently create accounts, see the essay topics, and begin adding academic work, creative samples, and other items that they believe will support their applications into a private "locker" that can be made accessible to colleges during the admissions process. Not all colleges will accept the Coalition Application, but a few, including the University of Washington and University of Maryland, will use it exclusively. Learn more about the Coalition Application in this article

It's important to rest and have fun over the summer, but if you can make time to get started on a few aspects of your college process, you'll find that it's a less stressful and more successful experience. 

Need guidance or suggestions? Please get in touch. 

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