So you’re only a few semesters away from sending your student off on a new adventure. Exciting, but undoubtedly scary. Don't let panic set in! Here are a few practical steps rising seniors should take to prepare themselves for college admission, this summer:
1: Start or keep preparing for the SAT or the ACT. The July ACT and August SAT provide an excellent opportunity for students to do well because they can dedicate substantial time to studying without the added pressure of schoolwork. Ideally, students should practice every day practicing for this all-important exam. The more time you prepare for these exams, like any other test, you will do well.
2: Spend time writing the first drafts of their college admission essays. Don’t wait for the fall to get started. By completing the essays before the school year, students will have time to revise and reconsider their approach to college essay prompts. Students should familiarize themselves with the main essays and the supplemental essays. You can also read have your start student read admission essay books or sign them up for college admission essay courses during the summer.
3: Devise your strategy for getting into college. Unfortunately, many students don't think of strategy when it comes to getting into college or wait until they are midway through the fall semester to get started. Most young people assume they have the grades and test scores to get into a good college. As students assess their college candidacy, the summer is the perfect time to consider summer jobs, apprenticeships, and possible involvement in activities that would give one the edge in the admissions process. Strategy is important because, on the one hand, students should be a good match for the college, yet at the same time students must also stand out from all the other applicants. Standing out may mean that students have to do something extraordinary. The summer gives students time to start a new project or do something unique that will help them become more desirable as a candidate.
4: Start searching for scholarships. Typically, parents and students do not think of scholarships, until after they've gotten into college, by then it is often too late. Scholarships should not be a last-minute concern. While it's true that most scholarships will be gained from the institution that you are going to, it's equally true that you can work to build a portfolio of smaller scholarships that will help you pay for your tuition, books, or housing. Researching and applying for legitimate scholarships takes time and effort. Since many deadlines will be in the fall, the summer is the best time to plan for these scholarships.
5: Enroll in a pre-college enrichment program. While it may be too late to enroll in a pre-college program formally, many community colleges and online schools have dual course schedules for prospective students. There is also an array of online colleges and ancillary college credit programs.
6: Make a plan to visit colleges you’re interested in. You will experience the campus when it is beautiful and quiet. You will also have time to speak one-on-one with students you may encounter, and, in general, professors are not stressed about meeting deadlines.
7: Summer is the best time to figure out who's on your college admissions team. Like many of the tips I’ve listed, time is of the essence. Don’t wait until the school year starts, and deal with the stress of classes, exams, and applications also to build your college admissions team. Now, if you're in a traditional school, the guidance counselor, or college advisor should be on your team. But, whether your student is attending a traditional school or is homeschooled, your team can and should consist of people who know your student well and can speak to their strengths and unique qualities. Start identifying who is helping you, who is going to guide you, and who you will go to for a recommendation. If you haven’t done this, now is the time!
Cheryl Carter has helped many students get into the college of their choice. Her advice is always practical and strategic. She prides herself on giving parents “the homeschool advantage” college admission advice.