Three Things Seniors Should Be Thinking About Now

The dog days of summer are here and you’re still a month out from FINALLY being the top the K-12 food chain. Yep, senior year is almost here. Time to finally enjoy a little less academic stress and a lot more memory making whether it be homecoming or prom or graduation itself. Get ready to walk the hallways with a little more swagger knowing that for the next 180 or so school days, that building is yours.

That is, unless you’re planning on going to college next year.

You’ll still get to enjoy all the memory-making activities but while your K-12 life is coming to a close, your college life is just getting ready to be born. Yes, you won’t complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for another couple months and sure actual college applications are still some time away. Still, there are low-lift things you can be doing and thinking about now – between lounging poolside and updating your wardrobe for in-person classes again – to help get a leg up on getting you into the college of your dreams next year:

  1. Test or Retest – if you took the ACT or SAT and didn’t like your scores, or for one reason or another just haven’t yet, the fall testing cycle is probably your last chance to show those colleges that still do care about these scores what you’re made of.
    The next SAT and ACT dates roll around at the end of August and beginning of September, but the deadlines to register for those first fall exam dates close in the next couple weeks. Go sharpen those pencils, grab a test prep book and look fabulous by the pool as everyone marvels at how you can be studious and cool at the same time.
  2. References and recommendations – not every school requires them, but references can go a long way towards making your college application stand out to admissions committees tasked with poring through thousands of applications.
    A quick email ask to your favorite high school teacher or employer or community leader before the next academic year starts gives them way more time to be thoughtful and thorough when it comes to describing how great you are. It also prevents this small but important application piece from slipping off your – and possibly their – radar once application season starts.
  3. College essays – Yes, nobody wants to write an essay during school much less during the summer. You don’t have to start writing now, but you should definitely be taking the time to think about what you’ve done over the past 3 to 4 years that will make you stand out from the rest of the application pack.
    In your free time start scratching out a list of all the awards you’ve earned, the jobs you’ve held, and the volunteering you’ve done. Add to that list all the times you can think of where you’ve had the chance to run the show or make big decisions – everything from choreographing a dance routine to being given the chance to set the weekly work schedule at your job.
    The kinds of questions that college applications typically like to ask usually ask to students to pick a situation or challenge and show how they handled it. Knowing in advance what you want to write about will make it way easier when the time comes to actually write about it.

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