Summer college prep for rising seniors

10 things rising seniors should consider doing during the summer to ease the stress they may feel in the fall.

Senior year is going to be busy. In addition to doing regular schoolwork, seniors will be putting a lot of their focus on college. This focus will include filling out college applications, writing essays, and figuring out how they will pay for college. To ease some of the craziness of senior year, rising seniors should consider doing some of these things during the summer. Taking time this summer to check off some of the college prep tasks can help students feel less stressed during the academic year.

Here are ten things rising seniors can consider doing this summer to prepare for the college admissions process.

1. Create the college list. The summer is a great time to continue the college search and finalize your college list. For students just starting to build their college lists, the first thing to do is to get to know yourself. Think about what you want and need in a college. Once you know yourself, start searching for colleges that meet your needs. Having a few reach schools on your list is okay, but make sure you have some match and safety schools as well.

2. Have the money talk. Students and parents should sit down and talk about finances for college. How much are parents willing to contribute to the college education? Get to know about your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Although rising seniors will not be able to submit the FAFSA until January, they can fill out the FAFSA4caster now to get an idea of what their EFC will be. While we all hope financial aid will cover everything after the family pays the EFC, many financial aid awards do not cover full need. Therefore, students should also fill out the net price calculators at the colleges they are considering to get an estimate of what their financial aid might be if they were admitted to the institution.

3. Connect with colleges. Take the time to connect with colleges. Sign up for their mailing lists to get further information about the institution, as well as up-to-date information about the college and the application process. Students can also connect with the colleges on social media. Many colleges are very active on social media and it gives prospective students the opportunity to learn what is important to institution. Colleges typically share information about fun and important things happening on campus, and it helps students get a feel for the institution’s personality.

4. Visit colleges. If you haven’t already visited the colleges you are considering, visiting this summer could be a good use of time. Although the best time to visit colleges is during the academic year, summer visits can still be very beneficial. Work with the admissions office to schedule the visit at least a few weeks in advance to ensure you will be able to see everything you want to experience, as well as talk to everyone you need to while on campus.

5. Gain experience. With no school, summer is a great time to gain some experience. A summer job can help students get some work experience and a little extra money for college. An internship is an excellent opportunity to learn more about a career you may be considering. Students may also want to consider a volunteer experience or a meaningful vacation. Any or all of these activities can be great experiences for the students, as well as interesting things to add to the college application.

6. Clean up social media. Every year there are stories about how admission offers were rescinded because of something a student posted on social media. While these examples are few and far between, it does happen. Therefore, students should review their social media presence and make sure they are proud of everything that is posted.

7. Create your brag sheet. Brag sheets or resumes are a way for students to put together all of their accomplishments and activities. Brag sheets can be given to recommendation writers to help them as they are crafting their letters to the colleges. Some colleges also allow students to submit the resume along with the application.

8. Start your college essays. Many of the college essay topics are already available, even if the applications are not open for submission yet. Just because you cannot submit your college application yet does not mean you can’t start brainstorming and writing your college essays. The college essays can play a huge part in the admissions process, especially at more selective colleges. Instead of rushing the essay in the fall, start working on the college essays now so that you can take your time and submit the best essay you can.

9. Test Prep. Some rising seniors have already taken the SAT or ACT and are happy with their scores. However, for students who feel they can do better or need to do better based on the academic profile of the colleges they are considering, summer is a great time to do some test prep before taking one or both of the tests again in the fall.

10. Search and apply for scholarships. Everyone wants a little help with paying for college. Summer is a great time to search for scholarships and start applying for them. In addition to applying for the scholarships that are due this summer, seek out the scholarships that are due during the academic year as well. Make an action plan to dedicate some time every week to scholarships, including the academic year.

Take some time this summer to check off some of your college admissions tasks.

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