Do you have a student that’s going to be a high school senior? If you do, the summer before entering his senior year should be fun….but it should also be a time to prepare for the college application process. Here are some helpful hints from an expert in college admissions–
1. Do something small (almost) every day
Achieving your summer goals doesn’t mean making those goals a part-time job. Break tasks down into their smallest parts and just accomplish one small thing on weekdays, Monday through Thursday or whatever works for your schedule. Give yourself lots of time off and don’t feel like you ‘could’ be doing more. Overdoing it will only cause you to procrastinate, which will take you further away from your goals.
2. Prioritize enjoying your summer
In creating your set of goals to prepare for applying to college in the fall, remember that this is your summer! If you have camp or a social event or just some fun planned, lower your college goals for that week. Remember that the summer is about creating memories and spending time with friends and family. Making the most of it may mean saving some tasks for when you get back to school full-time in the fall. That’s okay. You have it on your list and know what you will need to do.
3. Use the time to gather things and information where you may have some ‘downtime’
Maybe you need to request more information about a particular school or program. Perhaps you need to ask someone for a recommendation or have them provide you with their opinion or feedback, and it might be some time before you get that information back from them. Requesting this during the summer will not only impress the person because you’re planning ahead, it will take a lot of the pressure off of you because you aren’t waiting until the last minute.
4. Take the time to think about the strengths and weaknesses of your application package
What do you see as your strengths in different areas: personality, academics, and extracurriculars (including employment)? What aspects of your life and experiences will you want to highlight to the admissions officers? Also, what are the weakest areas of your application package? Is there time to make up for these things? For example, maybe you really should take another shot at the SAT to improve your score. Summertime brings many opportunities to volunteer, and you may be able to strengthen your resume while also earning a little money or have some other benefit such as travel.
5. Sit under a tree and reflect on your future
Okay, you don’t need to literally sit under a tree. However, the laidback days of summer can be the perfect time to break out of the mode of hyper-accomplishment and really think about your own path and what you want to do with your career. If you come from a family of doctors but have a passion for accounting, now is the time to find the courage to let everyone know. Wanting a ‘hands-on’ job could mean being an archeologist or it could mean being a dentist. Maybe what you wanted when you were younger doesn’t fit your developing personality and skill set. College is a huge investment of both money and time, so taking some hours to make smart decisions is time well spent – even if it looks like you’re ‘doing nothing’.
6. Stay connected
It can be easy for homeschooled kids to lose touch during the summer. Friends in the neighborhood who go to traditional schools are available to hang out more, brothers and sisters want to spend more time with you, and your homeschool friends may have full schedules with their own families and neighborhood friends. However, don’t neglect your friendships with other homeschooled kids. Keep in touch via social media, make a phone call or make plans to get together.
Ryan Hickey is the Managing Editor of Peterson’s & EssayEdge and is an expert in many aspects of college, graduate, and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in various admissions capacities for nearly a decade, including writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants.