Summer break is just around the corner and soon current high school juniors will be rising seniors starting the college application process! There’s a lot that college-bound juniors can do between now and summer break to ensure they’re ready to apply to college this fall.
Junior year is the most critical college prep time, as it’s the last full year of grades that colleges will see, and the last chance students have to prepare for the college app process before they’re actually applying. The college prep checklist for juniors is long, but there are a few critical things that juniors need to do now in order to be prepared for the application season later this year.
Finalize Your College List
The balanced college list is one of the most important elements of your application strategy. If you haven’t already, it’s time to put the finishing touches on your list. Do some more research on schools you’re unsure about and ask your college counselor for help filling in holes where you may need some more target or likely schools. Haven’t started on your college list yet? Now’s the time to get going! Meet with your college counselor to talk about the schools you’re interested in, do thorough research on your options, and try to schedule some last-minute visits to your top-choice schools. While it’s not ideal to visit colleges when classes are not in session, a summer college visit is better than no visit at all.
Create a Common App Account
If you haven’t already, create a Common Application account so that you can become familiar with the platform and even begin filling out your application with basic information. The Common App has account rollover, so when the 2019-20 application opens on Aug. 1, you’ll be able to transition your current account and all information over for the new application season. This will also allow you to get a head start on brainstorming and drafting your personal statement.
Create a Strategy for Early Applications
If you’re interested in applying Early Decision or Early Action to your top-choice college, now’s the time to start creating a college application strategy. Meet with your college counselor to discuss your options and what might work best for you. While acceptance rates in the early rounds tend to be higher, the applicant pools are more competitive, so have an honest conversation with your college counselor about your chances applying ED or EA. Your counselor may advise you on a different strategy, such as applying to several schools EA as opposed to applying ED to just one school.
Ensure You Have Productive Summer Plans
Spending your summer before senior year working on your college applications is productive, but not what colleges are looking for. Evaluate your summer plans. Are you continuing to pursue your interests? Do you have a summer job or internship? If you don’t have any summer plans yet, take some time to come up with some activities to keep you busy and engaged over the break. There are a lot of options for summer plans outside of educational programs, so do your research and get creative!
Prep for the SAT or ACT– If Needed
Maybe you didn’t quite reach your goal score on your last sitting of the SAT or ACT. Or maybe you’re behind on your testing schedule. Now’s the time to create a test prep plan for either the June or August SAT or the June or July ACT. If you haven’t taken either yet, start by taking a diagnostic of each and developing a test prep plan that will carry you through the summer so that you can take the SAT or ACT in the fall. Test prep isn’t a substitute for other summer activities, so ensure that your test prep plan allows for you to also do your regular summer projects and still have time to work on your college application essays.
Meet with Your College Counselor
A lot of this strategy hinges on input from your college counselor. Before the school year is out, set a time to meet with your college counselor to go over everything you have questions about before the summer. This can include your personal statement ideas, your college list, summer plans, application strategy, SAT/ACT timing, and more. Your counselor is a valuable resource, so use them! If you’re working with an independent college counselor, set up a few meetings before the school year is out and right after summer break starts, in order to ensure that you’re on track with your college prep plans. Again, your counselor is here to help you work through everything you need to know to prepare for the college app season this fall, so take advantage of their knowledge and expertise!
So much of this process is in students’ control, they just need to take inventory of their college prep needs and create a schedule that allows them to tackle all of their tasks in a timely manner. If you need help closing out junior year and getting on track for the college application season this fall, contact us today for more information on our college counseling services, including the valuable Initial Consultation.