Summer Plans for Rising Seniors

Rising seniors—here’s some college planning advice for this summer!

It may seem that this June and July are too early to start thinking about college applications, but the sooner you get started, the better and stronger your applications will be.

Here’s what you can do now to ensure the best chance of getting into your top college picks:

  •  Develop a thoughtful list of colleges you are considering – dream, match, and safety schools, as advised by The Princeton Review. Refine your list often. There are many approaches to this critical part of planning your future, so give as much attention, time, and thought to this task as needed.
  • Visit colleges now that you may want to attend. Use a checklist to compare entry requirements, class sizes, majors, campus culture, costs, financial aid, dorms, and food.
  • Have an honest conversation with your parents about college financing and expectations. These talks can be positive or they can be difficult, but there are resources available to ease these conversations.
  • Make your high school resume, which includes all your activities, awards, leadership positions, sports, service, jobs, and family responsibilities. Here are some examples.
  • Research and compile information on scholarships, grants, and any other financial aid that may fit your personal circumstances. Check out Questbridge, Jack Kent Cooke, Gates, Coca-Cola, etc.
  • Visit the Common Application website and other group-based application programs to decide which you will use to apply to your top choices. These applications are lengthy and very involved, so get started as soon as possible!
  • Determine deadlines for your college choices and plan ahead. For instance, Early Action deadlines at UGA and Georgia Tech are October 15—just about the time you’re settling into your senior year! Early action offers the best odds to be accepted into these two highly competitive schools. Regular admission deadlines are usually January 1 of your senior year.
  • Start composing your personal essays (see recent prompts here). Colleges rely heavily on these for admissions decisions, especially when choosing from a pool of thousands of applicants with relatively similar grades, activities, and test scores. Seek out peers with exceptional writing abilities to give you feedback and to help you to edit and to proofread.
  • Contact and line up your recommenders, who are an important part of the process—they need plenty of time to write a good letter. Choose people who know you well academically, who will speak highly of your character, dedication, and individuality, and who write well. Provide them with your resume and make yourself available to them if they need inspiration or have questions.
  • Challenge yourself by setting and meeting application goals that you complete well ahead of actual deadlines—senior year is going to be super busy!

Finally, contact me at kim.quintal@gmail.com for information about my personalized college coaching. Good luck in the college process!