It’s high summer, and you have plenty of work to do to make senior year and your college future come together. Might as well start with some simple relaxation exercises for when those many deadlines begin kicking in.
1. Now that you are refreshed, think about your goals and plans for the future. What are your talents? What areas stoke your curiosity? Ask teachers, counselors and family members who know you well about what they think about your strengths. Make a list to which you can refer; this can help when refining your application choices.
2. How do you want to use your talents toward a meaningful life and career? By adding activities and internships in areas of interest you can sample some possibilities while expanding your college resume and LinkedIn profile.
3. Hopefully, you brainstormed your college app essays at the end of junior English class. Please don’t think that it is “good Enough.” Instead, remember that essay can very well be the tiebreaker among tens of thousands of other applicant essays. Draft/redraft, recruit parents/teachers/editors to read and provide feedback until you are absolutely certain your essay stands out and will so impress your college essay reader s/he becomes your advocate for admission.
4. Remember all the online research and campus visits. They probably have blended in together. Review all your notes and get serious about refining your final list of colleges. Your list of “musts” and “would likes” should help lock down what draws you to each college. Talk to parents, siblings and other relatives about why your choices are solid and be sure to mention a few of the “passes” in case someone wants to make a case for them. Write down all the finalists and find the common threads and significant differences. Ranking them in order is a good way to expose the greatest draw for you. You will need this understanding to support content shared in essays and should tie in to what is shared in interviews.
5. Consider yourself as a brand. What separates you from your peers? A valuable tool for college aspirants is ZeeMee, which touts its ability to frame a student’s “story over scores.” The app allows you to create, update, and finalize your personal profile “brand.” Then you can connect your personal ZeeMee link to high school guidance counselors, teachers who are writing recommendation letters, and prospective colleges.
6. Next up, make sure you create application accounts for Common App, Coalition App, or individual school apps--depending on your specific plan for submissions. You should not let this slide far into August. Understand the requirements, gather and organize supporting documentation, and develop a firm timeline to complete all necessary tasks. It is crucial to develop a carefully crafted message that you can apply to each app, essay, and interview so each college recognizes you as a valuable addition to its community.
7. Hopefully you have a planner to schedule tasks efficiently:
--Update resume as colleges may allow upload to an application.
--Take time to evaluate extracurriculars and rank them by importance.
--Calculate hours per week and year. Extracurricular hours go on Common and other apps.
--Select and send scores to app colleges.
--Request recommendation letters. If already under way, circle-back with those teachers to make sure all is on time.
--If retesting in the fall, register for test dates. Be sure to include this future test date on applications, where applicable.
--If planning additional campus visits, schedule them ASAP. Fall dates fill up FAST as it’s a popular time for both high school juniors and seniors.
Got all that? Time for those deep breathing exercises discussed at the beginning of the blog. You’ve got this!