We are officially experiencing the “dog days” of summer, which means temperatures are soaring into the 90s, and that familiar Lowcountry humidity is hanging over us. Whether this has you heading for the air-conditioned indoors or searching for cooling ocean breezes, there’s no doubt the Charleston area offers a lot to do, both indoors and outdoors, during the summer months.
Boating, paddle boarding, museums, shopping, farmer’s markets, festivals… the list goes on and on. Not to mention, this season is a prime time for front porch sitting and iced tea sipping. After all, for those of us who live in Summerville, this is the “Birthplace of Sweet Tea!”
While the summer is meant to be enjoyed, whether you prefer doing that at a slower or faster pace, students, particularly high school seniors, cannot indulge in all play and no work. This is a crucial time for important college prep. So once you find some relief from the heat, make sure college planning is next on your to-do list.
The Independent Educational Consultants Association has put together a list of the Top 10 actions rising high school seniors can take to get a jump start on the college search during the summer months. For many seniors, after recently completing a challenging junior year, the last thing they want to think about during their summer break is school, particularly the college admission process, which can seem like a huge mountain to climb. But starting the planning early will get them to “Basecamp One” by the end of the summer. Plus, when they look back on everything they’ve accomplished, they will have gained confidence regarding the college admission process.
Check out IECA’s suggestions:
1) Write a generic admission essay
Applying for college can take up as much time as a regular class during the senior year. By preparing a generic essay in advance that can be tailored to different applications, the student can spend more time on studies and extracurricular activities once school begins.
2) Complete one college admission application
This application can serve as the prototype for all other applications. The Common Application is accepted by hundreds of colleges and may be a good place to start.
3) Collect reference letters
Normally reference letters come from junior year teachers who have taught the student for the last full year. Teachers usually appreciate having the extra time over the summer to write a reference when the memory of the student’s achievements is fresh.
4) Visit (or plan to visit) campuses
While summer is not the ideal time to visit campuses because there aren’t many students there, this is the time high school students are free and parents’ schedules are usually more flexible. These visits can also be made in the early fall and should include sitting in on a class, looking at the dorm rooms, eating in the cafeteria, and meeting with coaches and professors in areas of interest.
5) Finalize your college list.
Once senior year begins, application deadlines will be quickly approaching. Having a game plan and knowing where to apply BEFORE school starts is key.
6) Participate in interesting activities
Summer is a time to act on interests through internships, volunteer work, clubs or paid positions. Try something productive and creative, preferably in an area of interest.
7) Keep a summer journal
A journal can help students chronicle their activities as well as determine what they want and need for the next few years. Journals also serve to help improve communication skills, critical for later success.
8) Plan to take SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests
Rising seniors should have taken SATs and ACTs at least once by this point but may want to look at when they’re offered again in the fall. Those taking SAT Subject Tests will need to decide which subjects to take. If SAT prep courses are planned, sign up now for early fall.
9) Begin scholarship search
Use books and web-based services to begin a search for private money.
IECA experts point to reading as the best way to improve vocabulary and prepare for standardized tests. While reading, have a dictionary handy to look up unfamiliar words.
Setting aside a few hours one night each week will give students a chance to tackle this list, and by the time the first school bell rings in August, though the temperatures will have cooled off a bit, students’ college planning will be heating up… and they will be better prepared. Senior year will be a busy time and will bring a whole new set of to-do’s. Contact Landmark 12 Consulting, and we will be happy to sit down with both parents and students to discuss how to stay on track during senior year and best prepare for college
In the meantime, students, we are not suggesting this summer should be all work and no play (though we don’t encourage all play and no work, either!). Hit the beach, go on vacation with your family, and make sure you enjoy this special time in your lives. And don’t forget to raise your glass of sweet tea to the college experience that is right around the corner! Cheers!