I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but senior year is going to be very busy. In addition to your regular studies, you’ll be applying to college, participating in senior year activities, and making sure you don’t get senioritis. To make sure you are at the top of your game, plan ahead during summer.
Review your academic schedule. Senior year is an important year to show colleges that you are serious about your studies. While many high school seniors will choose to slack off senior year and only take the minimum classes, you should continue to challenge yourself.
- Are you registered for AP or honors classes? If not, but you’re able to take AP or honors courses, look into changing your schedule.
- Are you enrolled in a math class? Many high schools only require three years of math, so many seniors choose to not enroll in math their senior year. However, this is a mistake. First, most students will need to take a math course in college, so taking a year off from math can make it difficult to pick it up after a year. Plus, Admissions Officers are looking for students who challenge themselves academically. Choosing to continue with math is one of the ways to show them this.
- Are you enrolled in a full course load? You might have pushed yourself in your earlier years of high school and only need two or thee classes to graduate. Again, show Admissions Officers that you want to challenge yourself by enrolling in a course load full of academic classes.
Register and prepare for the SAT and/or ACT. You have another shot to improve your test scores in the fall. Many colleges will “superscore” your test score. This means they will take the highest score from each section to determine your overall score. Not all colleges superscore, but many do. A higher test score can increase your chances of getting admitted to a college. In addition, if a college awards merit scholarships, test scores are usually considered. The SAT is open for registration now and registration for the ACT opens in July. Register for the tests and put them on your calendar as soon as possible. Take some times during the summer to study for the test.
Review your activities. Colleges want to see students involved in meaningful extracurricular activities. Are you involved in activities that you have a genuine interest? Or, are you involved in activities only because you’re doing it to impress college? Are you more than a member in a club? Do you do more than just show up to meeting? Make sure you are participating in activities you enjoy and try to take a lead in the organization. It may be too late if you don’t have a leadership position, but you can take on more responsibility. During a fundraiser or event, take a leading role. Colleges want to see students showing leadership and participating in extracurricular activities can show your leadership.
Manage Community Service Activities. It’s important to continue your community service activities during the school year. Have you found an activity you truly enjoy? If not, find something that will show your passion. Admissions Officers are looking for students to be involved in something they care about versus something they are doing to just impress colleges – and they can usually tell the differences.
Choose your recommendation writers. Many college applications require a recommendation or two. Instead of waiting until the last minute to choose who will write your recommendation letters, brainstorm options now. The people that write your recommendations should be people that know you academically, as well as personally. It is best to find someone that has served as your teacher, as well as someone that has served as a mentor or advisor for one of your activities. The best recommendation letters can talk about your academics, your strengths and your goals – it shows the writer really knows you. Make a list of people that could be your recommendation writers and rank them based on who knows you the best. Make sure your list has at least three people just in case there is a reason your top choice can’t write the letter.
Get to know your guidance counselor. Many college applications, including the common application, require a recommendation from your guidance counselor. If your counselor has not had the opportunity to get to know you, schedule an appointment at the beginning of the academic year. Again, the best recommendations come from someone that knows you. Admissions Officers can sense from the letters when the recommendation writer does not know the student very well.
Calendar everything! Senior year will have more deadlines then you’ve ever had in a year. Make sure that you put everything on your calendar. If using electronic calendars, set reminders for everything as well. If you miss a deadline for applications, scholarships and financial aid, you can lose your chance. Make sure you don’t miss anything by “writing” it down.
Map out your senior year now to ensure a smooth year with less stress than the students that did not prepare.
Join me next time when I discuss putting together your resume.
In case you missed the other tips for rising seniors:
- Build and Narrow Down Your College List
- Clean-Up Your Social Media
- Connect with Colleges
- Gain Experience