Anticipating Fall Applications

It's summer. If you are a rising high school senior who will be applying to college this fall, regardless of how you're spending this summer, you're probably thinking about the college process now and then. Maybe you're even obsessing about it. Hopefully, you're doing something about it and being proactive.

Don't let your summer pass by without doing at least something that will contribute to your application process. Take a moment and survey what's going on in your life right now. Are you working a job? If so, good for you. Are you putting any of those earnings toward your future college-related expenses? If so, even more good for you.

Are you traveling overseas? This can be both a learning opportunity or an expensive diversion that might not contribute to your college application success. One positive possibility of foreign travel can be the chance to learn about oneself. Seeing yourself in a new light can lead to any number of excellent essay topics. Don't write about the travel itself, though, that's a very common essay topic that usually brings yawns to admission readers. Instead, write about how you may have discerned something new about yourself as you immersed yourself into completely different circumstances.

If you're taking summer courses, that's a definite positive. Maybe you're in your state's Governor's School. Even some online courses can be pluses for your overall profile.

If you're doing not much of anything, however, beware. You're missing a chance to get a jump on what may well be a very stressful end of the year, as you mix the start of your senior year with the pressures of applying to college. Trust me about that.

I recall the summer before my senior year in high school. I worked two summer jobs. One was strictly grunt work, delivering samples of Cold Power laundry detergent door to door in various counties throughout the central region of my home state. The other was much more accommodating, taking care of a country club's clay tennis courts. I not only got free court time in exchange for my labors but I also got to meet some of the club's young-lady members, even doling out some free tennis lessons for them. It was tough work but somebody had to do it.

Back in those days, rising seniors didn't give much thought to how or where they were going to apply to college. We just knew that we would more than likely go to college somewhere, but that would all take care of itself once school started in the fall. Not so today! These days, things have escalated to a fever pitch and some parents have even started college planning for their preschool toddlers. The fever pitch has risen to a state of delirium.

A while back, I saw a Kaplan survey about what kinds of things rising seniors were doing during the summer to prepare for college. The survey showed that they were involved in the following types of activities:

– Researching Colleges Online:

73% reported they will research colleges online during summer vacation, a convenient way to find and process much of the important information they will need about a school, from everything including how high they need to score on the SAT or ACT, to how strong the athletics program is. Different students have different abilities, needs and interests.

– Campus Tours:

To get the most realistic feel as possible, 71% plan to visit a college campus in person. If an applicant is unable to personally visit, they should check if a virtual tour is available on the college's official website or Facebook page. According to Kaplan's most recent survey of college admissions officers, 82% say they recruit students on Facebook, demonstrating that they view this median as a good way to communicate with prospective students.

– Experience:

While not nearly as important as standardized test scores, an applicant's extracurricular activities, work experience and personal biography play key roles in the admissions process. With that in mind, 67% of students reported that they will volunteer over the summer and 63% said they planned to work.

– Summer Learning:

To keep building their GPA and overall knowledge, 21% said they planned to take an enrichment course. This may also help them do well on AP exams senior year, which may in turn translate into college credit and shave off a semester's worth of tuition.

– Feeling Confident:

86% of students expressed confidence that they'd get into their top college choices. Students also feel positively about the admissions chances of their friends, with 88% saying they are confident they will get into their top college choices.

– A Successful Junior Year:

86% of students said they were satisfied with their academic performance this past school year; a nearly identical 84% said their parents were also satisfied.

– Catching Up on Some Good Books:

45% of students plan to read at least five books for pleasure over summer vacation, including 18% who plan to read more than 10.

Where do you fit in among these types of college application prep activities? Here are more student summer activity survey results from Kaplan. Now's the time to get a head start on fall!


Be sure to check out all my college-related articles on College Confidential.