June 6, 2017

How to make the most of your summer and get ahead on college applications!

Junior year can be a stressful and hectic time.  Between AP exams, standardized testing, and starting your college search, it is natural to feel burnt out. With summer on the horizon, you are in store for a much deserved break! Be sure to take some time to slow down, relax, enjoy time with friends and family, and pursue your favorite activities.  However, make sure you are doing at least one productive activity over the summer: it can be anything from working at a camp, your local ice cream shop, an internship, volunteer gig, or research.  The very first question I would often ask students on an interview would be, “What are you up to this summer?”  Make sure you have an answer beyond lounging by the pool! It is all a balancing act and summer is also the perfect time to get ahead with making progress on your college search; take the time to visit local campuses, and start brainstorming about college essays. It is much easier to get a jump-start while you are feeling refreshed.  The beginning of senior year can also be very chaotic, so prepare now to be on a successful track.

Overall Tips for Summer:

  • Make sure you have asked two teachers for a recommendation letter before you go on summer break. Each high school may have their own process for requesting rec letters. Asking early and in person is wise. You should then follow-up with an email to remind them about your request and to inform teachers of your college deadlines so they can get started on those letters over the summer. Ideally you should ask teachers who can speak of your strengths in a field that relates to your major.
  • Get active! Explore local volunteer opportunities, find a job so you can start to save up for your college expenses, and take time to exercise and get in a positive mental and physical routine. Learn ways to manage stress which will serve you well during application season.
  • Make a list of deadlines. Are you planning on applying anywhere in early decision or early action? How about rolling admission? Having  a checklist of deadlines will keep you organized and will help you have your goals in sight.
  • Build your official college list. Make sure you have a balanced list of safety and target schools. I recommend three safety schools, three-four target schools, and three reach schools. It is important to love every school on your list!
  • If you are applying to colleges that offer interviews, contact their admission offices to see when interview requests will be available. Often these fill up quick so you may have priority if you request an interview sooner.
  • Visit colleges! While summer is a slower time on college campuses, most colleges still offer weekday tours and some Saturday tours.  Nothing compares to a campus visit to really get a vibe on a college. If you can’t realistically visit all the colleges on your list, at least visit local options. It helps to see a large public school, a medium sized school, and a small liberal arts college.  This will help you identify what types of colleges are the best fit for your college search.

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