Whether your summer plans involve flipping burgers or lounging at the shore, we recommend five simple steps that won’t overly-detract from your summer but will give you a leg up in the college admissions process come the frenetically-paced autumn months that loom ahead.
1. Demonstrate interest.
Carve out a few moments to show your prospective colleges some love. Trust us, with yield-rate statistics causing admissions officers many restless nights, making schools feel wanted can leave a favorable impression. Whether or not a student showed interest in the form of a campus visit, an email, or time surfing the university website can become a factor come admission time. Colleges ?want great students, but they really want great ?students who are genuinely interested in attending their institution.
2. Request letters of recommendation.
Separate yourself from the panicked masses who, in a few months’ time, will be begging their favorite teacher to write a college recommendation letter 48 hours before their application deadline. Trust us, recommenders will appreciate your proactive approach and may even utilize the extra time to write a more thoughtful, detailed letter. Additional tips include supplying your recommender with your high school resume to better inform their testimonial as well as picking an individual who knows you intimately rather than someone prominent who doesn’t know you at all (admissions officers see mountains of generic ?letters from members of Congress signed in autopen).
3. Work on your college essays.
The Common App college essay prompts for the 2017 admissions cycle are posted, which means you are free to begin them now. Play with pre-writing and generate ideas for your college essays now. Waiting until a few weeks before the application deadline causes unnecessary stress. Let the ideas flow while the gentle (and sort of creepy) melodies of the ice cream truck still play on.
4. Complete the students activities resume.
When it comes to listing your extracurricular achievements, the goal is not to fill a single-spaced page in 6-point type with a record of every single action you’ve ever taken as a human being; it’s to create an interesting and engaging resume. Admissions personnel are looking for depth over breadth and want to see evidence of leadership, commitment, and burgeoning passion that will carry over to their respective campus. In other words, leave off that afternoon as a freshman when you attended a Model U.N. interest meeting, only to embarrassingly realize that it was not, as you assumed, a club for building miniature replicas of embassy buildings.
5. Finalize your college list.
Developing your college list can be a lot more challenging than it sounds. It’s easy to get caught up dreaming about your top-choice school, yet it’s important to have not just multiple irons in the fire, but the right irons (all you blacksmiths out there know what I’m talkin’ about!). Remember admission to Ivy and Ivy-level colleges can never be taken for granted so you’ll need to diversify that portfolio.
Also, make sure to pick at least one financial safety school in case you end up on the short end of the merit aid chase.
Rising seniors, Enjoy this well-earned respite from hard work. Relish the opportunity to enjoy a late breakfast while spending a day at the beach. That being said, if you can find an hour here and there to work on the above activities, you will thank yourself in just a few short months.