How Juniors and Seniors Maximize the Summer

Rising seniors gain a huge advantage by starting college applications in June. Rising juniors have the "new" SAT to worry about so now is truly the best time to tackle the question "which standardized test is best for me?" This summer take the important steps necessary to reduce the stress of the fall.

Seniors:

  • Finalize your college list – At the very least, review your school list and decide which colleges to eliminate and which to keep. Schedule a meeting with the college advisor at your high school before this semester ends and ask the advisor to suggest additional college options.
  • Continue test prep for fall SAT/ACT and/or SAT Subject Tests – Many students hope to improve upon their scores by focusing on test prep over the summer and re-taking exams in the fall. Some students consider taking an SAT subject test, or two, in order to enhance their college applications. This is recommended even if the colleges to which you will apply do not require subject tests.
  • Application Essays – Summer is the perfect time to get started on actual college applications. While many students have summer jobs/internships or are taking summer classes, there is time on weekends and evenings to begin composing the personal statement – the main college essay.
  • It is strongly recommended to draft some of the supplemental essays that certain universities require. The school website details the application requirements so you can check what the supplemental essay(s) ask you to write for that particular college. Be prepared to spend a few weeks on each essay as you will need several revisions.

Juniors:

  • Begin Sat/ACT test prep –  Whether or not the student has taken the PSAT and/or PLAN, it is advisable to take a diagnostic SAT and ACT over the summer to determine which exam makes the most sense. If it is possible students should begin practicing for a fall test. This leaves ample time for re-testing in the winter and/or spring.  If the student has already decided to take the re-designed SAT next spring, make sure to find a tutor who is familiar with the new format. Do not try to take both the ‘old’ and ‘new’ SAT exams.
  • Start perusing the college guidebook - Parents can pick up any of the college guide books on bookstore shelves and start a preliminary list based on location, size, and possible majors (liberal arts vs. sciences). For parents who want to take the next step, use the guidebook to identify colleges of interest and then spend time on each school’s website.
  • Website Research – You can spend hours on college websites as they are chock full of information. One piece of information that can help discern if the college is a real possibility or a long shot, is the 'student profile' for the incoming class. This includes the SAT and ACT scores; GPA range; and a slew of demographics. If your student’s current GPA falls close, it may be worthy of consideration. And certainly you will learn the SAT score range this particular school is looking for.
  • Start planning fall college visits – Starting campus tours in the fall gives students a huge headstart and takes the pressure off of the spring when exams, school work, and extra-curriculars ramp up. The more schools you visit, the more focused students become.