Applying to college is a tedious and often stressful process for students and parents. In addition to finishing their last year of high school, seniors may have to juggle many responsibilities along with applying to multiple schools.
We have found that our students enjoy greater success and experience less stress when they use their summer break to begin the application process.
With less than a month left before school starts, here are five things rising seniors can do to get a jump start on the application process. This is in no way an exhaustive list, but it is a great starting point to get the ball rolling.
#1. Create a balance List
A well-crafted list involves researching colleges to determine whether they provide an environment where students will be challenged academically, but are also able to thrive.
A few things to consider when building your list are whether the school offers your major, the location, organizations you might be interested in, undergraduate research and internship opportunities, honors, or major-specific special programs.
Based on your GPA and test scores (if available), create a balance list that consists of 10-12 schools which are a mix of:
- 2-3 Reaches – A lower chance of admissions
- 3-4 Matches – A medium chance of admissions
- 4-5 Likely – A higher chance of admissions
A great resource to help with building your list is CollegeBoard’s college planning tool, Big Future (bigfuture.collegeboard.org)
#2. Visit college campuses virtually
Because of COVID-19, most colleges are not offering in-person visits, but have opened their campus virtually to allow you to connect with them. We encourage you to check out the college’s admissions page for information on virtual info sessions and tours. Some colleges even provide opportunities for you to speak 1-on1 with admissions representatives or current students.
We have also compiled a list of our favorite websites for virtual visits, which include some virtual goggles enabled tours.
#3. Start working on your college essays
Many students make the mistake of waiting until the last minute to start drafting their college application essays. Your essay is one of the only opportunities to show admissions representatives who you are as a person and share information about yourself that can’t be found anywhere else in the application.
Remember to be yourself. Colleges want to admit you; not your alter ego.
#4. Search for scholarships
There are plenty of scholarship opportunities with deadlines in the fall.
Many students feel discouraged from applying because they don’t have a super-high GPA. The reality is that students with average GPAs may receive scholarships too. Of course, having a higher GPA will qualify you for more opportunities.
Along with reviewing scholarship websites like Fastweb (fastweb.com) and Scholly App (myscholly.com), check out the admissions website at each college to determine what merit scholarship opportunities you may be eligible for. For a list of local scholarships, check with your school counselor.
#5. Start working on your college applications
Considering all the work that goes into each application, now is the time to get organized. Students should get ahead start on understanding the unique application requirements for each school on their list.
- How many recommendations are needed?
- How many essays will you be required to write?
- Will you have to participate in interviews?
- How many recommendations are required?
- How much does it cost to apply?
- Are they test-optional?
These are just a few items that students should be tracking during their college application journey.
We advise students to review the individual admissions websites and use a tracker to keep up with all requirements.
To save time, students may also take advantage of centralized platforms to apply to multiple institutions with one application. Some options include:
- Common App (commonapp.org – over 900 colleges and universities )
- Coalition App (coalitionforcollegeaccess.org – over 130 colleges and universities), and
- Common Black College Application (commonblackcollegeapp.com – 54 historically black colleges and universities).
Need help figuring out the confusing college application process? Click here to schedule your FREE 20 Minute Introductory Call.
Do you have any tips to help students? We would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share this post with your network.
US College Experts is an educational consulting company entirely dedicated to preparing, inspiring, and connecting students to the best college opportunities.