Summer vacation can be a moment to take a break after all the AP exams, standardized tests, and an exceptionally challenging school year. But it’s also a time to focus on college admissions and college planning. This year, in particular, because of the impact of COVID-19, summer is a great time to prepare. Because once the fall semester starts, the calendar moves fast! If you’re a senior, early action and early decision deadlines start rolling in November, and state university deadlines start in late November. It will be a challenge to find the time to get everything done. You’ll have the burdens of school work, including AP and honors courses, the SAT or ACT, and perhaps even sports.
Summer College Planning Tips
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 research colleges, define your criteria, and pick the list of colleges to which you’d like to apply. It’s tempting to choose based on rankings, or based on which schools your friends are attending. But spend some time thinking about what is important to you. Maybe a small school fits you best. Or perhaps 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 nearly $32,000 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 graduate 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 that some private universities will cost you less to attend than an in-state 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 for which you can qualify. Spending as little as 30 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 tailored to you. Use LifeLaunchr’s Scholarship Match to help you find scholarships.
- 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 more than ten essays before you finish with your college applications. Your college admission essay can set you apart from all the other students who 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 online internship or volunteer: Summer is a great time to learn job skills through a summer internship or by working a part-time job. These activities can help you identify what you’re interested in, and the skills you learn—showing up to work on time and building relationships with co-workers—can make a huge difference. They can help with college applications as well.
Enjoy the Vacation!
Summer can still be a time for going outside, playing in the sun, and spending time with family. But if you’re in high school, use the time to get ahead of the game on college planning.