Seniors: Get Ahead While Relaxing This Summer

Seniors deserve some downtime during the summer. Relax. Soak up some sun. Eat potato
chips. But if you follow these five tips this summer, you’ll be the envy of your fellow seniors later this fall when
they’re running to meet deadlines and the only running you’re doing is to
work off all those potato chips (we’re speaking from unfortunate personal potato
chip experience here).

1. Finalize your
list of colleges by the end of the summer.

Finalizing your college list doesn’t have to be a fall project. Start
now. And try to finish before you go back to school. Deciding where
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. This way, you’ll be able to start (and finish) your
applications earlier.

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

Which tests scores are required?  Will you need teacher
recommendations?  Are you allowed to do an alternative dance to express yourself on the application (you can here)?  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. Get started on applications. 
Many colleges will 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?  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

4. While you’re at
it, get started on the essays, too.

It’s hard to relax and write a thoughtful college essay during
the fall of your senior year when you’ve got classes, activities, and the crushing
pressure of living at the top of the high school social ladder (being a
senior does have its benefits). Start
your essays during the summer. Some of
your colleges will have applications available (see the Common Application mentioned
above). And if you’d like some essay
advice, we’ve got a few helpful blog entries here.   

 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.