1. Make a College List
At this point, you should have a fair idea of what your top college choices are. You don’t have to have picked your first choice yet, but if you haven’t yet researched any of your prospective colleges, now’s the time to jump right in!
August is right around the corner, and in the blink of an eye, you’ll be back in school for your senior year. Before you know it, college application deadlines will be upon you. The longer you delay your college research, the more you will have to scramble to get everything ready on time. Why rush your college applications when you could start your research early?
There are plenty of great resources for getting started on your college list. A quick search on Amazon yields recommendations from The Princeton Review and U.S. News, among others. Ideally, you should have a list of 8-12 potential colleges consisting of 3-4 match schools, 3-4 reach schools, and 3-4 safety schools. For more information, check out our article on how to get the most out of your college lists.
2. Take a College Road Trip - Virtual or in Person?
Once you’ve compiled your shortlist of top prospective colleges, you need to start whittling it down. What’s the easiest way to reduce your list down to a solid roster of top choices? Go straight to the source!
The college road trip took an understandable hit in 2020 due to the pandemic. With millions of Americans living under quarantine restrictions, it wasn’t exactly an opportune year for hitting the road and dropping by your top college prospects. On the other hand, college admissions still had to continue for the 2020-2021 academic year. How did most colleges respond? They offered virtual campus tours!
How you choose to visit your college prospects will depend on myriad factors. Every college has responded to the easing of COVID restrictions differently; some are allowing students and parents to visit on campus, while others are sticking with the virtual campus tour format. Regardless, visiting college campuses is an outstanding opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge and experience of the schools on your shortlist.
Remember, it takes four years to complete an undergraduate degree. If you don’t feel comfortable and at home while visiting a school for a day, do you think it’s worth spending time and money applying? Cross it off the list!
3. Choose a College Essay Topic
The vast majority of college applications will inevitably require some sort of writing component. This might come in the form of a personal statement, but more often than not, colleges will have you write a personal essay of up to 1,000 words. Believe it or not, the easy part is filling up the word count — yes, even a thousand words is doable! The tough part? Choosing the best essay topic!
Many students make the mistake of writing an essay that they think admissions officers want to read; this is how colleges wind up inundated with stock essays about scoring winning goals. The perfect college essay topic should be something that speaks to you and your personal interests. Ideally, it should be an essay that only you could have written. This is your opportunity to show admissions officers who you are beyond your average SAT scores or GPA numbers.
Take this time to think about some possible college essay topics! Check out this blog article for more college essay tips.
4. Check SAT/ACT Registration Dates
Just last week, the College Board finally announced the registration deadlines for the August SAT. While we’re on the subject of college readiness, have you made a plan for taking the SAT or the ACT in the fall?
Presumably, you’ve already taken one of these tests at least once. That’s great! That being said, there’s always room for improvement, and when it comes to SAT/ACT prep, it’s never a good idea to place all your chips on one set of scores. Numerous studies have indicated a steady score improvement in students willing to take these tests more than once. We know these tests are annoying, but SAT/ACT scores are one of the most vital components of your college application. It’s worth investing your time and effort into improving these scores.
So what are you waiting for? Seats fill up fast, so if you plan on taking the August SAT, click here to register right away.
5. Review with a Test Prep Expert
Here’s a follow-up question: When you took the SAT/ACT the first time in the spring, did you prepare with a test prep expert? If not, it’s never too late to ask for help. If so, well hey, there’s always room for improvement once again!
Now, if you’ve already completed a full course in either the ACT or the SAT, you shouldn’t need to take one all over again. However, many high school students — especially rising seniors — have found it beneficial to schedule a few hours with a private tutor to review the basic fundamental concepts and strategies before jumping into the process once again. Quite a few months pass between SAT/ACT dates. Even if you were happy with your initial performance, how confident are you that you remember everything from your first test prep course?
Once again, you are investing in your future by investing in college test prep. Don’t assume you can remember everything on your own! Speak to an expert who will help you refresh your memory and practice your skills, giving you peace of mind in knowing you’re more than prepared when you have to take the exam again.
There’s no such thing as over-preparing! Don’t let another summer day pass you by — click here to talk to a test prep expert today.