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A Summer to Remember: College Application Tips for Juniors
Published on Thu, May 8, 2014 (9:25 a.m.)By Nancy Meier
I know you’re excited for the school year to end. Are you dreaming of that first day of summer break when you can actually sleep in? That’s understandable, considering how some of you are running on fumes after several weeks of AP exams, final exam prep, prom, SATs, ACTs, and more! Junior year flew by, and it was pretty busy, wasn’t it?
As busy as you found junior year to be, your senior year will be even busier. If you are planning to apply to selective colleges, do not underestimate the amount of time and effort your college applications will demand. On top of completing your college applications, you will still need to stay on top of your schoolwork, extracurricular commitments, and standardized exams. That’s a lot of balls to juggle next year.
The increasingly competitive landscape of college admissions requires you to stand out from your competition like never before. Grades, extracurricular activities, and standardized test scores are only a few of the many important considerations for college admissions. As an example, in 2013, Stanford received 38,828 applications and accepted 2,210 students. That’s an acceptance rate of 5.69%! They turned away 5 of every 8 valedictorians who applied. What made the difference among the students who got accepted? The college application.
The college application reflects who you are, your achievements, and your aspirations. In the eyes of admissions officers, your application is you. The more that you prepare for your college applications in the next few months, the less stressed and overwhelmed you will feel in the Fall. It’s a simple and powerful truth.
We care about helping you through your college application process here at University Peak. I have been helping ambitious high school students through the college application process since 1999. Many of my students have gone on to attend the most selective universities in the country. For all of my students, there is one common thread in their college admissions journey: They took my advice to PLAN AHEAD.
As you bring your junior year to a close, let me give you a few tips to help you make the most of the next few months as it pertains to your college applications:
1. Make the most of your summer.
In the eyes of college admissions committees, summer vacation is not a “vacation.” Unfortunately, hanging out with friends and sleeping are not extracurricular activities that will help your applications stand out. Your summer break is an opportunity for you to deepen your areas of passion, explore academic areas of interest, and make a mark on things that are important to you. Summer is also a great time for you to have discussions with your parents or guardians about your future.
2. Get familiar with college applications.
Understand what college applications require of you before you start your senior year. You will enter your senior year feeling more assured and confident about the process.
3. Talk to potential recommendation letter writers before the end of your junior year.
Get a good sense of who will write your letters, so that you can prepare information for them during the summer.
4. Finalize your personal brand.
Strong college applications are not just a quilt of random information. Strong applications have a definite strategy behind them, and your personal brand is the critical foundation.
5. Fill in any academic holes through enrichment courses, summer courses, etc.
There are many ways for you to strengthen your academic profile nowadays. You can take courses online, summer courses at a local community college, and more.
6. Finalize your standardized exams preparation.
If you have not done so already, determine what you need to do to score your best on your SATs or ACTs. This includes individual study, individualized tutoring, and group classes.
7. Complete a strong working draft of your personal statement.
Your personal statement is the main essay on your application. The personal statement is one of several application components that breathes life into the human being behind the grades and test scores.
8. Develop a semi-final college list and visit colleges.
Each college has different admissions requirements. The more you understand what each college requires from you as an applicant, the more prepared you will feel in the Fall of your senior year. Summer is also a great opportunity to visit colleges that interest you. If you cannot visit all of the colleges because of time or budget restrictions, check out the colleges that are near you. Get a feel for what a large public school feels like compared to a small liberal arts school or a private college.
9. Deepen your extracurricular passions.
Use this summer as a rich opportunity for you to strengthen your areas of interest and demonstrate leadership skills. Think of the next few months as the capstone of your high school passions. What will be your legacy at your high school or community? How did you make an impact on the interests and organizations that are important to you?
10. Check out the University Peak Online Course.
After helping hundreds of ambitious students over the years, I created an online course that walks students through the entire selective college application process. The course helps you with creating your personal brand, creating your college list, writing the college application essays, crafting a powerful personal statement, gathering high-impact letters of recommendation, writing a strategic activity list, evaluating your standardized test scores, selecting wording on applications, guiding you through financial aid applications, and coaching you for college interviews.
And that’s it for now…
This list will help you make the most of the next few months. If you accomplish these items by the time you start your senior year, you will feel much more at ease with the entire college application process. College applications can be stressful and maddening; but only if you let them be. You will find that if you approach the college application journey with a solid plan, the journey becomes a rewarding, life-changing experience that results in immense self-discovery and growth.
Now, it’s time for you to make a plan and execute it. Take a deep breath, exhale, and repeat. Then pull out your calendar and set goals for yourself for the upcoming months. I always tell my students, “Preparation and action are the anecdotes to fear!” Learn as much as you can about the college admissions process. The more you learn and prepare, the better you will feel.
ABOUT UNIVERSITY PEAK: University Peak provides expert college admissions consulting through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online learning. Founded and based in Las Vegas, University Peak has helped hundreds of students locally and around the country increase their chances of admission when applying to selective colleges and universities. For more information about University Peak, visit universitypeak.com or call 702-810-7275.