You’ve waited your whole academic career to be a senior, and now you’re finally here. One way or another, it’s likely to your most memorable year yet, and if you’re wise and pro-active, you can make the memories predominately positive. There are four general areas about which you can be pro-active in the waning weeks of your final high school summer:
1) Application To-Do’s
2) Standardized Test Plans
3) College Fairs, Visits, and Interviews
4) Mental Preparation for Academics and Extracurriculars
1) Application To-Do’s: By now you should have a list of colleges from your guidance counselor.
- a) Spend some time on each school’s website and, in consultation with your family and guidance counselor, narrow your list to those to which you are going to apply. Visit the school’s site regularly, as I’ve heard schools are beginning to track such information.
- b) Find out which schools accept the Common Application (https://www.commonapp.org/CommonApp/default.aspx) and sign up on the mailing lists for the schools that do not accept it.
- c) In consultation with your family and guidance counselor, decide whether you are going to apply Early Decision.
- d) Make a chart of all your application deadlines (some have a preliminary filing deadline as well as a final application deadline).
- e) If you haven’t yet asked teachers for letters of recommendation, get that done in the first week of school. There is a right way and a wrong way to do this and yes, it DOES matter whom you ask: ask for advice if you need it. Give them each a filled-outCollegePrepExpress “College Recommendation Form” to help them write about common themes and emphasize your strengths (you can download the form from the private download section on our site).
- f) Begin work on your personal essay BEFORE school starts and use CollegePrepExpress’s Essay Editing Services to make it the best it can be. Also familiarize yourself with the Supplemental components of each school’s application and get help formulating responses to them.
2) Standardized Test Plans:
- a) In consultation with your family, guidance counselor, and CollegePrepExpress, decide whether you are going to (re-)take the SAT Reasoning Test, SAT Subject Test(s), and/or the ACT. Click here for the 2008-09 CollegePrepExpress SAT/ACT Planning Calendar and blog. Remember that many schools that require either the SAT or the ACT also require two Subject Tests if you choose the College Board route.
- b) Register for the exams.
- c) Sign up ASAP for CollegePrepExpress tutoring or a small class so that you can get into the swing of taking practice tests and studying BEFORE school starts!
3) College Fairs, Visits, and Interviews:
- a) Find out when and where the college fairs are this fall in your area and go to them.
- b) Visit the booths of the schools on your list and ask lots of questions. Just being there will help get and keep your head in the game.
- c) Plan to visit as many colleges on your list as possible; take tours and go to the info sessions while you’re there. If you can arrange an overnight with someone you know (or someone you don’t, which can be arranged through each school’s admissions office), that’s even better. Go to some lectures and see what the students do for fun after class. Participate as if you were a student there.
- d) Call each school’s admissions office and schedule a campus or alumni interview wherever possible.
- e) Schedule a session or two with a CollegePrepExpress interview specialist (all of whom have worked as interviewers in the field!). Forewarned is forearmed: you can know all the questions and have prepared answers in advance!
4) Mental Preparation for Senior Year Academics and Extracurriculars. Yes, you get to have a “senior slide.” But not yet! Throughout the fall of senior year, you want to show colleges a transcript of your most rigorous courses and the very best grades of your career.
- a) Ensure you are registered for the most rigorous curriculum for which you are qualified.
- b) Be a total geek from day one: sit in the front, take copious notes, do ALL the homework, ask questions and shoot for A’s.
- c) Continue to pursue your athletic and extracurricular activities with a mind toward leaving the very best legacy of which you are capable.
It’s a tall order, but the good news is that the fall of your senior year is a short tunnel with a scintillating bright light at the end. Get some tunnel vision and as the good people at Nike like to say, Just Do It! Then, and only then, enjoy your SLIDE!