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.
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:
It’s summer time and I know that you want to relax and have fun in the sun. However, it’s important to not sit idly by while other college bound students are out doing things that will help them stand out in the admissions process. Summer is the perfect time to build up your activities resume. Here are some ideas for your summer activities:
Get a summer job or internship. Getting a job is a great way to gain experience and build your networking skills. It’s also a great way to earn some money that you can put away for college.
Travel. If you’re able to, travel to new areas of the country or the world. Traveling is a great way to meet new people and learn about new areas and cultures. While traveling, visit colleges you may be interested in attending. Take the official campus tour and ask questions while you’re on campus. Visiting a college campus is a great way to figure out if the college is a good fit for you or not.
Volunteer. Do something good for the community. Choose a volunteer activity that is important to you, rather than just picking a volunteer opportunity out of convenience. Many colleges will ask about your community service activities and it impresses Admissions Officers when they see a passion for the work students do. Don’t fake it – Admissions Officers can usually see through it.
Take a summer class. Get a head start and take a college course at your local community college. Not only will you get a feel for what college course expectations are, you’ll get college credit that you can take with you to the college you will attend in the future. Check in with the Transfer Center at the community college to discuss the class you are interested in taking to ensure it will transfer to the colleges you are considering.
Read. Reading is good for you in so many ways. You will continue to grow your vocabulary (great for the SAT) and knowledge. Reading will also help you when it comes to the college essays and interviews. There are many colleges that will ask you what you’ve read and you’ll be able to answer that question. Be diverse with your selection and choose to read nonfiction and fiction. Also, read about current events and issues in the academic fields you will be studying.
Stay ahead of the college admissions game and stay busy over the summer. Everything that you do can help you in the college admissions process – every little bit can help you to get accepted into the college of your dreams.
Join me next time as I discuss planning out your senior year.
In case you missed the other tips for rising seniors:
Above photo credit: Extraordinary Leadership by Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography is licensed under CC by 2.0 | Text added to original.
There’s a trend in college admissions called the “stealth applicant.” These are students that never officially show interest in a college until they actually apply for admission. The students might have visited a college fair and grabbed materials from the Admissions Officer. They may have done an unofficial tour of the college. And, they may have visited the college websites numerous times. But, they never “said” to the college, “I’m interested in you.”
There could be many reasons students choose not to share their interest before the application. I’m here to tell you all of the reasons it’s a good idea to let colleges know you’re interested:
Not all of the above reasons to connect are guaranteed to happen. But, there’s a chance they could happen. Why not put yourself out there and connect with the college? It doesn’t hurt and it’s free.
There are many ways to connect with the institutions. You can do one or all of the suggestions below to connect with a college.
Connecting with colleges is a great way to get as much information about a college a possible. Because college is such a huge investment in time and money, you want to make sure you learn as much as you can. In addition to helping to give you as much information as possible, connecting with the college could potentially help you during the college admission process. Why not check them out and let them know you’re interested?
Join me next time when we discuss summer activities.
Check out the other tips for Rising Seniors: