For the Class of 2020, this summer is the most important one of your lives. On top of internships, research, summer homework for AP classes, and club involvements, it’s time for the dreaded college application process. But what exactly do you need to do this summer to prepare? We’ve broken it down for you in these 5 steps:
Research, Research, Research
Nobody tells you this, but a huge part of applying to college is simply scouring college websites to figure out what programs or aspects of the school excite you. So open a new document and start digging for the following information from each school:
Majors that interest you
Special academic opportunities that interest you
Research opportunities on campus
Faculty that you’d love to talk to
Clubs you’d join
Campus events you can’t miss
Does the campus share the same values as you? (Intellectual curiosity, innovation, diversity, etc.)
Anything else that stands out to you
Not only will finding all this information help you narrow down which schools you should apply to, but it will also help you immensely when you’re writing supplement essays for these schools which, more often than not, will ask you some version of “Why do you want to come here?”
Create A List of Your Priorities
At this stage of applying to college, it can often feel like your fate is completely being decided by the colleges themselves. But in reality, you get the first pick by deciding which campuses you want to apply to in the first place! As such, summer is the perfect time to figure out what you want in a college. Here are some factors you might want to start prioritizing:
What’s Your Story?
Many students start drafting their essays during this time, but before you start looking at prompts, I recommend really spending this summer reflecting on your life thus far. Of course, that’s a lot easier said than done. But I firmly believe that the key to good college essays is being able to pinpoint specific moments in life that have shaped you into who you are today. Once you have those narratives thought out in your head, fitting them into the various prompts is not as daunting of a task. Here are some questions to ask yourself to start drawing those stories out:
What are your values? How did you develop these values?
Who are your role models? Why?
What are some of your favorites? Books? Movies? Places? Why?
What are some significant days that you’ll always remember? Why?
If you need help answering these questions, I would start by looking through any journals, photos, or memories you have that could remind you of significant moments. Another tip is to ask your parents who have gone through an entire lifetime with you to give you their thoughts on what led you to who you are today.
Ready to ED (Early Decision)?
Although you still have time to finalize your college list after summer is over, the decision for which schools you might apply to with Early Decision or Early Action should happen relatively soon. It’s critical that you find out what type of early application each school offers and whether or not you’re interested in it. Applying early can have many benefits: some schools tend to have a higher early decision acceptance rate, it reduces the stress of having so many later application deadlines, and it can even allow you to know where you’re going for the next 4 years by December if you’re admitted. But it’s also a huge commitment that you may not be ready to make yet. Make sure that your early decision school is a campus that you’d love to attend more than any other one on your list.
One of the best ways to prepare yourself for college applications this summer is to utilize all of the resources available to you. Ask for advice from older siblings, relatives, or friends. But one of the most helpful steps is reaching out to students who currently attend universities that you’re interested in. A quick 10 minute chat with a high school alumni who goes to your dream college can give you more information than an hour’s worth of scouring the website.
If you and your family feel overwhelmed by the countless schools and vast amounts of misinformation out there, many students choose to seek professional help through college counseling services. Here at 7EDU, we’ve helped countless families gain admission into their dream schools by providing personalized counseling and helping your students reach their highest potential. Give us a call at (408) 216-9109 to schedule your free consultation today!