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Staying Active in the High School and College Application Process During the Summer

Summer can seem like a time warp for high school seniors.The term “hurry up and wait” comes to mind as their college fate will be sealed in as early as five months, yet there are tangible signs of progress. Students can get ahead of the game by using summer as a prime opportunity to stay active in the high school and college application process. Below, I’ve listed ten ways to stay active and to get ahead of the application process:

1. Research Schools and Programs

Use the summer to thoroughly research potential schools and programs. Create a list of your top choices and dive into their websites to understand their values, curriculum, extracurricular offerings, and admission requirements. Create a spreadsheet and title the columns with your most most important characteristics that you seek in a college and fill it in as you explore each school. Consider factors like location, campus culture, size, majors, GPA and score targets, and academic strengths. This research will help you refine your list and tailor your applications to each school’s unique offerings.

2. Visit Campuses (Virtually or In-Person)

If possible, visit campuses to get a feel for the environment and culture. Many schools offer virtual tours and information sessions, which can be a convenient way to explore from home. Take notes during these visits to reference later in your application essays and interviews.

3. Start Working on Your Application Essays

Begin drafting your application essays early. Reflect on your experiences, achievements, and aspirations. Write multiple drafts and seek feedback from a college essay specialist. This iterative process will help you craft compelling and polished essays that showcase your personality and strengths.

4. Engage in Meaningful Activities

Participate in activities that align with your interests and career goals. Seek a summer job, internship, volunteer work, or a personal project that fits into your potential major or desired field. These experiences are the primary reason some students are offered admission and others aren’t. They also provide valuable skills and insights that you’ll carry with you to college and beyond. Be sure to document your roles and accomplishments for future reference.

5. Prepare for Standardized Tests

If you plan to take standardized tests like the SAT or ACT, use the summer to prepare. Take a practice test and then work with a tutor or take a class. Set a study schedule and use more practice tests to identify areas for improvement.

6. Request Letters of Recommendation

Think about who you’d like to write your letters of recommendation and reach out to them early. Teachers love to have extra time to think through what to say about each student, and they don’t like being blindsided by last minute requests. Be sure to write a thoughtful email to each teacher and provide some details about your background that they might use to paint you in the best possible light.

7. Organize Your Application Materials

Keep all your application materials organized, including transcripts, test scores, and extracurricular activity records. Create a spreadsheet with checklist of deadlines and links to materials for each school and set reminders to ensure you stay on track. Being organized will reduce stress and help you meet all your application deadlines.

8. Explore Financial Aid and Scholarships

Research financial aid options and scholarships. Many scholarships have summer deadlines, so start early and apply to as many as you qualify for. Understanding the financial aspect of your education can influence your school choices and reduce future financial stress.

9. Network and Seek Advice

Connect with current students, alumni, and admission officers. Join forums and social media groups related to your prospective schools. Networking can provide valuable insights and advice, making your application more informed and robust.

10. Take Care of Yourself

Finally, don’t forget to balance your application activities with relaxation and self-care. Summer is a time to recharge, so make sure to enjoy some downtime, pursue hobbies, and spend time with family and friends.

Students who get ahead of the application process in the summer significantly enhance desirability and also help you to go into the process with confidence and insight about what you want. This effort will not only make the application process smoother but also increase your chances of gaining admission to your dream schools.

Prep Academy Tutors of Downtown Manhattan offers essay writing, test prep, and generally tutoring services to help you stay focused and provide the crucial tools to help you navigate this important stepping stone. Let us know how we can help.