Now that SAT and ACT testing is over until the fall, there’s nothing you can do to help your college plans along this summer. Right? WRONG! If you don’t work on something during the summer, either you will be swamped in the fall, or you will lose ground in getting into the colleges you want. And this doesn’t apply only to rising seniors. High school underclassmen – and even middle school students – need to be using summers well and planning for how to structure curriculum and extra-curricular activities at school and beyond to maximize their potential for acceptance into dream schools. It’s VERY late for seniors to be able to affect their prospects in those ways, but there are many other tasks they need to be doing this summer.
Applying to colleges is as time-consuming as a part-time job, and leaving all of that for the fall with the load of senior year activities, leadership positions, and actual part-time jobs is unwise. Before school begins, you need to have a clear plan for finishing SAT (including Subject Tests, if required) and ACT testing early in the fall. Your list of colleges that fit you well should be completed by now, including online research and preliminary visits. You need an orderly plan for tracking application requirements and deadlines; colleges have no sense of humor about deadlines or missing requirements. By the start of school, you should have explored your essay requirements and drafted essays that can be used for multiple colleges and scholarships. You should have identified teachers to ask for required recommendation letters and made friends with your guidance counselor, and you need to approach them in a way to simplify the process for them and enhance the results for you. Finally, you should have a frank conversation with your parents and anyone else who may contribute to your college costs about realistic expectations. Identifying colleges that are generous with scholarship money, as well as completing applications for outside scholarships, is important. Still think you want to leave it all for fall? I didn’t think so. If your head is spinning in circles right now, I can help by reducing your time investment, targeting opportunities that are right for you, and maximizing your prospects for success at a cost your family can handle.
Even if you are not yet a senior, many of these activities can be worked on well before the senior year, making the load more manageable. For example, if you haven’t done anything other than watch TV, play video games, and go to the lake all your life, digging up an essay idea that will stand out from the crowd will be tough. It can be done, but think how much easier it would be to write an essay about yourself, if you have something to write about. And believe it or not, everybody needs to be applying for scholarships; some scholarships and grants are even targeted for middle school students! And redheads, short people, left handed students, and folks who wear duct tape to prom.
Get in touch, and let’s get to work. I promise you’ll still have lots of time to play.