Summer break is right around the corner, meaning there are only a couple of months left before current juniors wrap up the school year and become the next class of college applicants! Now’s the time for juniors to evaluate where they are with their college prep and if they’re ready for the next step – starting on college applications over the summer.
At IvyWise we advise rising seniors to get a head start on their college applications by working on their Common App essay and supplements during the summer. Why? Students applying to a balanced college list of 10-15 schools could have upwards of 20 (or more!) supplemental essays to write, in addition to the main Common Application (or Coalition App) essay. If students wait until the fall of senior year to start on their applications, that’s a lot of work to get done in just a few months – on top of their senior year courses and activities.
The summer is a prime time to start brainstorming and drafting these essays, as students should have plenty of free time in between summer activities and plans. Also, many colleges and universities tend to release their supplemental essay prompts in the summer ahead of the official Common App open date, giving students plenty of time to think about what they might want to write about in those essays.
So, are you on track to start on your college apps? Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure you are prepared to start on your college apps this summer.
Have you created your Common App account yet?
Since the Common Application implemented account rollover, students are able to make an account now that will roll over to the next application cycle when the Common App officially opens for the 2018-19 admissions season on August 1. All of your information will be preserved in the rollover, so current juniors should go ahead and create a Common App account so they can start filling out the basic information and familiarize themselves with the Common App platform. The Common App has already announced the essay prompts for 2018-19, so you can even begin brainstorming topics for your main Common App essay. This is the first step to ensuring that you are ready to get started on your college apps this summer.
Do you have a balanced college list?
You can’t get started on your applications without a good idea of where you plan to apply. Again, many universities release their supplemental essay questions in the summer – well before the Common App officially opens on August 1. This allows students to get a head start on the supplemental essays for the schools to which they plan to apply. It’s important for juniors to have their balanced college list close to finalized by the end of the school year, so that they’re going into the summer prepared to start on their application essays. If your list isn’t quite finalized – that’s okay! Not every student will have his or her balanced college list done by the summer, but it should be close. If not, schedule a time to meet with your college counselor before the end of the school year to get back on track with building your balanced college list.
Do you have an application strategy?
Students shouldn’t go into the summer without some idea of how they plan to apply to the schools on their balanced college list. Now’s the time for students to work with their college counselors to determine if they’re on track to apply early decision or early action to their top-choice colleges, or if they have some work to do this summer to strengthen their application profile. An application strategy is an important key to maximizing your chances of admission to your top-choice schools – especially if you’re applying to highly selective institutions. Knowing how to use early application rounds to your advantage is critical to ensuring you’re putting your best foot forward, and can help you prioritize which applications you work on over the summer.
Are your test scores where they need to be?
Part of developing an application strategy and summer college prep timeline is understanding how your grades and test scores stack up to your peers and the applicant profiles of the schools to which you plan to apply. Most importantly, are your test scores where they need to be in order to have the best chance of admission in the early round? Or do you need to take some time this summer to prep for the June or July ACT or the June or August SAT?
Have you created an essay writing timeline?
So your Common App account is set up, you know where you plan to apply, and your application strategy is set, so what’s next? Now’s the time to plan out how exactly you will tackle all of these essays during the summer months. Again, many colleges announce their supplemental essay prompts in the late spring or early summer, so there’s plenty of time to get started. Make sure you’re prepared with an essay writing timeline that lays out what you will write and when, so that the bulk of the essay writing is spread out over the summer months, and not crammed into July/August as you prepare to head back to school. Here’s a comprehensive essay brainstorming and writing timeline for current juniors/rising seniors to refer to when creating their own timeline for the summer.
There’s a lot of work that goes into preparing for the college admissions process, and college-bound students should have most of their college prep done by the end of junior year so that they’re ready to start on their applications in the summer before senior year. If not, there will be a lot of work that students have to do over the summer and in the fall semester, on top of managing a challenging senior year course load. It’s critical for juniors to make sure they’re on track so that they can get a head start on their college apps this summer!
Not quite where you need to be with your college prep? IvyWise can help juniors prep for the college admissions process this summer and into the fall with our college counseling programs for high school students. Contact us today for more information on our team of expert counselors who can help you maximize your chances of admission to your top-choice schools in a comprehensive college counseling program.