For high school students all over the country, summer vacation can be a moment to take a break after all the AP exams, standardized tests, and an intense school year. But it’s also a time to really focus on college admissions and college planning. Why? Because once the fall semester starts, the calendar moves really fast! If you’re a senior, early action and early decision deadlines start rolling in November, state university deadlines start in late November. You will have a hard time finding time to get everything done. You’ll have the burdens of school work, including AP and honors courses, PSAT, SAT, and ACT tests, and sports.
Summer College Planning Tips
So what are the things students and parents can do over the summer that will help with college admissions? Here’s a great list to get you started:
- Build your college list. Summer is a great time to tour colleges, define your criteria, and pick the list of colleges you’d like to apply to. It’s tempting to pick based on rankings, or based on what schools your friends are attending. But spend some time thinking about is really important to you. Maybe a small school fits you best. Or maybe you are interested in a school that offers a specific program. Use LifeLaunchr’s College Match to build a list that reflects your values and priorities.
- Develop a plan for affordability. College is expensive, and the average student now graduates with $35,000 in debt. But you don’t have to end up owing tens of thousands in student loans. Build a plan. It can help you be among the three in ten students who graduates debt-free. You might be surprised to learn that, in some cases, Private universities with endowments can often give students far more awards based on grades, extracurricular activities, sports, and other criteria besides financial need. That means in some cases they will cost you less to attend than a public university. And wherever you go, there are many strategies to save money and cut the cost of college.
- Start applying for scholarships. Besides aid from colleges and need-based financial aid, there are thousands of local and national scholarships you can qualify for. Spending as little as 15 minutes a day applying can mean tens of thousands of dollars in help with the cost of college. The key to winning scholarship money is to select scholarships that are tailored to you. Use LifeLaunchr’s Scholarship Match to help you find scholarships that are tailored to you.
- If you’re a rising junior or senior, work on your essays and personal statements. It takes six to eight weeks to write a great college essay. And you may have to write as many as ten essays before you’re finished with your college applications. Remember, what you say in it can help set you apart from all the other students who will apply with similar test scores and transcripts. Writing an authentic, well-written essay (or essays) is critical for a successful application. Sign up for a free consultation to see if you could benefit from professional essay coaching.
- Do an internship, or volunteer: Summer is a great time to learn job skills through an internship or by working a part-time job. The skills you learn – of showing up to work on time, dressing professionally, and building relationships with co-workers – can make a huge difference in your life. They can help with college applications as well.
Enjoy the Vacation!
Summer can still be a time for fun, for going outside and playing in the sun, for vacations and for time spent with family. But if you’re in high school, use the time to get ahead of the game on college planning.