Incoming senior, rising senior — these terms refer to a high school student who has just completed their junior year and will be starting their senior year in the fall. For many rising seniors, the end of their junior year marks the beginning of the long, and often stressful, college application process. While the full Common Application and school specific supplements aren’t released until August, some essay topics have already been revealed, and many students are taking the initiative to begin working on their application essays over the long summer break.
While it’s a great idea to get started as early as possible, there’s much more than just essay brainstorming to complete the summer before senior year. Getting a head start in the application process is the best way to make sure students have a smooth and relatively stress-free senior year!
Here is IvyWise’s recommended summer bucket list for rising seniors:
June College Prep
- Make sure your resume is up-to-date.
- Continue to research schools online and build your college list. Include a combination of reach, target, and likely schools to create a balanced list.
- Identify two teachers for letters of recommendation. While you won’t reach out for recommendations until the fall, it helps to know ahead of time who you would like to ask.
- Continue and build upon your current community service projects throughout the summer.
- Think about goals you want to set for the coming year. Include both personal goals and academic goals, and develop a strategy for achieving those goals.
- Start a filing system to help you keep all your college materials organized, i.e. color-coordinated folders for papers, projects, test scores, report cards, portfolio materials, etc.
- If you’re going on vacation near a school you’re interested in, stop by! While it’s not the same as visiting campus when school is in session, it’s a great opportunity to get more information and demonstrate your interest to the admissions office.
July College Prep
- Continue reading. The summer is a great time to catch up on some of the outside reading you may have missed junior year. Reading frequently can also help with your essay writing and storytelling skills, which will come in handy when it comes time to write your personal statement and supplemental essays.
- Explore other academic interests you may not have had the opportunity to experience during the school year. This could spark inspiration for essays or research for your college list.
- Reach out to admissions offices on your school list that you haven’t requested information from yet.
- Use social media to supplement your research! Follow the colleges and universities you’re interested in on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Threads, and other outlets. Connecting online will keep you informed on campus news, events, and admissions information, and shows demonstrated interest.
- If applicable, begin preparing for college interviews.
- If you’re taking the SAT or ACT again in the fall, begin studying for fall test dates. Download some test prep apps and follow the College Board on Instagram so that you can take plenty of practice quizzes and get ideas for potential questions that may be asked. Remember, if you’re planning to take the SAT in or after Spring 2024, make sure you understand everything there is to know about the new digital SAT.
- Research school testing requirements. If the schools on your college list require the TOEFL or another English proficiency exam, take the exam in the fall.
August College Prep
- The Common Application is released. Begin reviewing supplement topics and brainstorming responses.
- Narrow down your college list and finalize which schools you will apply to!
- Make note of all the different deadlines for each of the colleges on your list. Create a calendar that has all dates clearly labeled.
- Begin making a college application plan of action. What applications take priority? Will you be applying early to some schools? Are certain regular applications due before others? Do you have to complete separate applications for specific programs or majors?
- If you haven’t already started, begin working on your college essays and have them checked for content and grammar.
If you’re an underclassman wondering what you could be doing to spend your summer wisely, download one of our College Planning Checklists! For expert and customized help in developing your college list, crafting the best application essays, and optimizing your applications, contact IvyWise today for more information on an Initial Consultation and our on-going counseling programs.