Before you head off for your summer adventures, may I offer a bit of advice?
Hold off from being lulled by the warm breezes of vacation plans and spend some time making a list and checking it twice! Below are nine tips for finishing junior year strong, using summer to your advantage, and carrying on with your college planning.
College Planning Checklist:
- Check your report card
Begin by checking your final report card to make sure that your grades are correct and your transcript is in order. Junior year is the most important year on your academic record so be sure you have an accurate statement.
- Finalize your senior year schedule
Next, finalize a rigorous senior year schedule before you leave school for summer vacation. Knowing what awaits come September will help you to set clear, practical goals and create a successful working plan. Follow your school’s policy for requesting teacher recommendations (whether at the end of junior year or beginning of senior year) and ask two academic teachers for their letters of support. You may also want to pass your resume, GPA, and test scores to them so that they can draw on pertinent information.
- Be active during the summer
Jump into the summer months with gusto! Colleges want to admit individuals who are committed, engaged, and, in general, exuberant participants in life. Set out for your paid job, internship, service position, sports camp, or pre-college course and embrace the present.
- Reflect on your passions
Enjoy your activities and note what is particularly rewarding or inspiring to you, because knowing your strengths and preferences can help you to make wise, informed decisions down the road. This reflection may also be a useful exercise and preparation for brainstorming ideas for your college essay. Being resourceful and managing your time are key to using the summer months to your advantage.
- Write your college essays
In addition to managing your daily activities, schedule precise times to write your college essay(s) and prepare applications. The essay exercise will take some discipline because you will need to sit down and complete a number of drafts over several days or weeks. Incorporate writing into your summer schedule and remember that schools often have individual or supplemental essays in addition to the general college essay or personal statement.
- Review your college list and testing requirements
Think carefully about your testing strategy and decide if you need additional test scores. Review your college list and be clear about the testing requirements of each school. If you need to test in the summer or fall, register for the tests well in advance, and allow time to complete the required test prep.
- Review your online presence
Take an inventory of your social media content, polish your representation, and make your public profiles private. Summer also offers the perfect time to work on artists’ portfolios and demo videos. Be sure to review your online presence in order to present your strongest self.
- Plan college visits
Summer travel should involve both a family vacation and visits to college campuses, so plan your itinerary wisely. Be attentive as you conduct your college planning research and remember that the notes you take on campus may be useful later when you sit down to write your supplemental essays.
- Attend college information sessions and tours
Explore the campus, and be sure to register to attend the information session and tour hosted by the admissions department. Colleges and universities may consider demonstrated interest as part of the application process so it is important to sign up when you show up.
The intensity of the college application season can be managed through careful planning. Take a realistic look at your summer months and create a working schedule that makes sense for your life. Challenge yourself to find the balance in achieving your college application goals while also spending pleasurable times with friends and family.