College Admissions Expert Elizabeth Levine: Getting a Jump on the College Search
What can a student do over the summer to get a jump on the college search?Now that the weather has finally gotten warmer and Spring is in the air, the end of the school year is approaching as is the summer. Making your spare time productive can mean alleviating some of the stress and tasks associated with applying to college. I list below ten top things seniors, and even those who are in high school who are entering into their sophomore or junior year of high school, can do to get a jump on the college search.
For all high school students:
1. Write up all of the activities, community service and paid jobs that you have experienced beginning in ninth grade. For those entering into their senior year pull this information into a resume since you will need that to be sent to the colleges you are applying to.
2. Visit college campus's, and this goes for any high school student. This will allow you to experience different kinds of schools; large, small, rural, urban and much more, so you can decide which type of school most appeals to you. This will help you narrow down the colleges that you will eventually apply to.
3. Participate in interesting activities during the summer through volunteer work, internships, clubs or paid positions. It is important that you do this with things that are of interest to you. Just participating in any community service activity for the sake of getting it on your resume is of no benefit to you or the organization that you are volunteering for.
4. Keep a summer journal to document all of the activities as well as determine what you want and need for the next few years. In addition, journals serve to improve communication skills, which is critical for success not only in college but in life.
5. Read! This is the best way you can improve on your vocabulary and prepare for standardized tests.
For students entering in their senior year in the Fall:
1. Write a generic admission essay. By preparing a general essay in advance that can be tailored to different applications, will allow you to spend more time on other college search activities in the Fall as well as class work and extra curricular activities you want to participate in.
2. Complete one college admission application. This will serve as a prototype for all other applications. The Common App, where 500+ colleges use this as their application for their school, should be available August 1.
3. Ask for letters of recommendation. Many of the teachers you will ask for letters of recommendation from will come from your junior year in high school. Asking them towards the end of your junior year can provide them more time, with less pressure, to write it up over the summer and then you will have your letters all completed the first day of school.
4. Plan to take the SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests in the early Fall. At this point you should have already taken the SAT's and ACT's and know which test is probably the one best suited for your skills. Unless you are completely satisfied with your results from your first set of tests sign up for the tests in the Fall during the summer so you can take the test as early as possible after school starts. In addition, for those students that are applying to schools that require SAT Subject Tests, decide over the summer which subject tests you are going to take and sign up for the tests that are offered after school begins.
5. Develop a preliminary list of colleges that you may want to apply to and be sure that they are within your reach, meaning that they are within the realm of your academic credentials.
If you have any questions about the college admissions process or the above information please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone, 845.551.6946.
Signature College Counseling is an Orange County, Hudson Valley based company
that works one on one with students and their families in navigating the admissions process so you attend the college that is right for you.
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