I think the smartest, most strategic decision a senior can make during the month of August is to choose between two paths for the next four weeks before school starts:
1. Go all in and work like your hair is on fire.
2. Check out, relax, and recharge as much as possible.
Depending on who you are and how you’ve spent your summer, either one can be a really smart decision.
College applications are staring you in the face. And when school starts, you’ll be balancing those with your classes, activities, standardized testing, and other commitments. It’s all doable and seniors get through it every year. But it won’t be easy. So what’s the best August choice for you?
If you’ve had fun this summer, if you’ve enjoyed some days to sleep in, if you’ve spent time with your friends and had your fun and realistically aren’t suffering from any lingering burnout, I’d recommend the go-all-in option. Make it your personal mission to do as much college application-related work before school starts. You may feel like you’re getting cheated out of your final month of summer. But the work will have to get done either way. And I simply cannot imagine a scenario as you progress through the fall when you’ll say, “I really wish I hadn’t gotten such a head start on all this during the summer.”
But maybe your summer hasn’t been all that relaxing. Maybe you’ve had a part- or full-time job. Maybe you’ve been doing intensive test prep. Maybe you’ve been doing reading for AP classes, or volunteering 30 hours a week, or fulfilling other obligations and responsibilities without much opportunity to bask in the traditional lazy days of summer. If so, pick option 2, the one that lets you make the choice to fill your gas tank as much as possible for the remainder of the summer.
The worst path is to either fail to make a choice at all, or to pick one and not commit to it. So think carefully about this. Be honest with yourself about how you’ve spent your summer, and which road will realistically put you on the best path to success. Then make your choice.
Bonus tip: Tell your parents which choice you’ve made, why you’ve made it, and what commitments you’re willing to make to ensure your choice delivers the maximum benefit. It may not be the choice they’d recommend. But if you’re thoughtful, deliberate, and communicative, you’ll at the very least demonstrate that you’re thinking ahead and taking your college applications seriously.
Seniors, there’s no wrong answer, but you’ve got to pick one. Time to make your August choice.