Summer To-Do List for Soon-To-Be Seniors

It’s summer.  And you rising seniors deserve a little rest and relaxation.  But while you’re soaking up your summer, here a few college-related things you can do to make your upcoming application season much easier. 

1. Aim to finalize your list of colleges by the end of the summer.
A lot of students wait until the fall to even decide where they want to apply.  Why wait?  Deciding where you’re going to apply is much easier than deciding where you’re actually going to go (which doesn’t happen for most students until late in your senior year).  So do your research, talk to your parents, and visit any colleges you can get to this summer.  Remember, you can always alter your list this fall if a visit to a college (or the advice of your high school counselor) prompts you to rearrange the list just a bit.    

2.  Visit the websites of your selected colleges and collect all of
the necessary information about deadlines and application requirements.

Which tests scores are required?  Will you need teacher
recommendations?  What are the application deadlines?  These questions
are all clearly answered in the admissions sections of the colleges’
websites.  Don’t wait until you’re swamped with senior year work and
activities to sort through the requirements.  If you check those sites
now, you’ll make sure there are no surprises when you start filling out
applications later.

3.  Register for fall SAT, Subject Tests or ACT exams.
Fall test dates fill up fast.  So if you plan to take any standardized tests this fall, register right away.  You can sign up for the SAT or Subject Tests at, or the ACT at

4.  Get started on applications. 
Many colleges make their applications available this summer.  In fact, the Common Application, an application used by nearly 300 colleges (including Harvard, Princeton and Stanford) is available right now!  Why not get started on the applications and the essays?  It’s a lot easier to do these things during the summer when you aren’t in school all day and doing homework at night.  Start now and you’ll have a much easier time this fall.

5.  Submit "Part I" of applications.
Some (but not all) colleges ask you to submit "Part I" of an application before you are given online access to Part II.  Part I (which is typically just biographical information like name, address and phone number) is used only to create a file for you.  Many students are nervous about submitting anything this early, but there is no reason not to submit this part of the application now.  You aren’t evaluated based on your information in Part I.  Submitting Part I tells colleges that you are a serious applicant, and you’ll be notified early of reps visiting your area, interview scheduling, etc.