Rising seniors truly should begin their Common Application in July to reduce the pressure later. Ideally, rising juniors should know by now which standardized test – the ACT or the SAT – they plan to take in the fall or winter. Summer is the best time to jumpstart the college roadtrip and take the important steps necessary to reduce the stress of the fall semester.
- Finalize your college list – At the very least, review your school list and decide which colleges to visit in the fall. Some schools already have their ‘open house’ and ‘special session’ fall visit schedule online. Have a final list ready to review with the college advisor at your high school in September and ask him/her to suggest additional 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 – July is the perfect time to complete the personal essay for the Common Application. In August, the supplemental essay prompts for individual schools will be available and students will get busy drafting those. While many students have summer jobs/internships or are taking summer classes, there is time on weekends and evenings to begin composing the personal essay – the main college essay.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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 students visit, the more focused they become.
ReadySetCollege has a unique approach to executing these steps more effectively than families and high school counselors can alone. Contact Franca today.