Although most college applications don’t officially open until August 1st, preparing begins long before that date.
Read on to learn the 10 things rising seniors can do this summer to prepare for college application season.
10 Things Rising Seniors Can Do This Summer To Prepare For College Application Season
Before you get completely caught up in your last summer of high school, make sure to keep a focus on college applications. To help, I’ve put together the 10 things I recommend my students do over the summer before senior year to prepare and ensure a smooth college application season.
1. Learn The Application Requirements
It’s true that most colleges have similar application requirements. However, it’s never safe to assume that your application is complete without checking through all the requirements for each and every application. For instance, some colleges have additional requirements for specific majors. Furthermore, colleges may also have optional requirements that are advantageous to submit.
Use a spreadsheet like this to stay organized and develop a game plan to complete them by the deadline.
2. Expanded Resume
Here’s looking at you, UT Austin!
Many colleges allow students the option to submit an expanded resume with their application. And many honors and scholarship programs actually require it. If you have an expanded resume already, then update it. Or, if you haven’t created one yet, use this template to get started. Better yet, join us for one of our Bright Futures Resume Workshops!
Having an expanded resume on hand will save you tons of time and stress once applications open. You’ll be thanking yourself once senior year and application season comes around!
3. Write Your College Application Essay
Also known as a Personal Statement, having this completed ahead of time will make for smooth sailing a couple months from now.
Many students fret over the essay because it’s so open-ended and can feel daunting. But don’t let anxiety override your drive.
Instead, take a look at the prompts (which typically have a spring announcement) and brainstorm. To help you get started, use these college essay brainstorming exercises as a guide. You can also join us for an Essay Bootcamp over the summer and complete it before senior year even starts.
Reach out to Bright Futures for expert guidance through the college application process.
4. Ask For Recommendations
Get a head start and more individualized attention by politely making “the ask” to your teachers before the fall. By then, they’ll be inundated with requests from your fellow students.
Starting this process before the fall will give you time to work on your “brag sheet”. Moreover, your recommenders will have more time to work on a thoughtful letter.
Learn more tips to make asking for recommendation letters easier on yourself here.
5. Review Your Transcript
Once your junior grades are finalized, ask your high school registrar for a copy of your transcript. Then review it in detail.
This document plays a MAJOR role in your admission file. So check to make sure everything is 100% accurate. If there are any discrepancies, bring them to the attention of the registrar. Confirm that everything has been corrected before having transcripts sent out to colleges.
Do you want to make sure your transcript is going to get you into your ideal college? No matter where you are in your high school career, we can help you make sure you’re on the right track towards your bright future. Contact Bright Futures today to get started.
6. Get Your Finances In Order
FAFSA and CSS Profile applications have deadlines as early as October. So make sure you file your taxes promptly and have your financial information on hand. You’ll need income information to use colleges’ Net Price Calculators to estimate the cost of attendance.
Take a look at SMU’s Net Price Calculator as an example.
7. Take The SAT Or ACT
Although many colleges adopted a “test optional policy” for fall 2021 and 2022 admissions, there are others that are back to requiring SAT or ACT scores.
Ahem, University of Georgia…
If Georgia or others requiring SAT or ACT are on your list, get to studying. Schedule your test no later than September of your senior year.
8. Self-Reported Academic Record (SRAR)
Are you applying to Texas Tech or Texas A&M?
What about LSU, NYU, or UConn?
If the answer is yes to any of these colleges, you’ll need to transcribe your high school transcript into this system. It’s not rocket science, but it certainly takes a good amount of time. This is also a great task for parents who are able and eager to help. Thank them by taking charge of dinner one night.
Not all colleges require the SRAR. For a list of those schools that do, click here.
9. Prepare Your Portfolio
For students applying to programs that require a portfolio, review the college’s guidelines. Then begin to compile your work to fit their criteria.
If you’re starting from scratch, consider taking a local art class or an online art portfolio prep course to guide you.
10. COVID, Natural Disaster, & Community Disruption Short Answer Question
Colleges really do want to understand the context of your achievements in high school.
In other words, they actually care about what is, or what was, going on in your home, school, and community that may have impacted you. Take time to reflect on your high schools years, then complete the following prompt in under 250 words:
“Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces.”
Bright Futures Is Here To Help You Succeed
Do you need help getting through the college application season? We work with students and their families to put their best foot forward with strong applications.
You are already amazing. Sometimes you just need a little extra guidance to make sure college admissions officers see you shine in your application, too. Contact Bright Futures today to get started leveling up on the competition.