By Violet Wei
Summer is the perfect time for high school students to explore, learn, grow and discover who they are away from the confines and pressure of their academics. In addition, as college admissions become more competitive, making a summer plan and starting early can help students build a solid college application and admissions. Here are three ways students should use the summer to get a jump start on their applications.
1) Build a College List
When building a college list, you’ll want to consider several factors, including the location, tuition, major, size, and type of school are essential. Most importantly, you will want to create a balanced college list, which should include schools in three different categories: reach, target, and likely school. Having a balanced college list is critical to your success in your college admissions.
● A reach school is one where your academic credentials fall below the school’s range. Any school with an acceptance rate of less than 20 percent is considered a reach due to its unpredictability.
● A target school is one where your academic credentials fall well within (or even exceed) the school’s range. The acceptance rate should be at least 20-40 percent.
● A likely school is one where your academic credentials fall comfortably above the school’s range. The acceptance rate should also be at least 40-45 percent.
2) Ask for Letters of Recommendation
The best time to ask for a recommendation letter from your teachers is before the summer starts. This gives them plenty of time to work on your letter over the summer. After they agree to write the letter, create a “brag sheet” for them, including bullet points detailing your college or career goals, examples of stories where you showed leadership or made an impact in your community, and anything else that you think they might want to use in the letter is helpful. Sending your brag sheet with your resume will help them write a more personalized letter of recommendation. Remember, only ask people who know you well to ensure that they will write you a strong recommendation or add something unique to your application.
3) Start Writing Your College Essays
The personal statement essay is essential to help students stand out from others and showcase their personality. During the summer, students should start to work on their personal statements because developing a compelling essay can take several drafts. By starting it in the summer, students can start to prepare for the individual school’s supplemental essays later.
In addition, students might discover that finding a professional guide to aid them through the process can be helpful.
Attending an application boot camp like Application iQ can keep a student on track and motivated throughout the summer. By attending an application boot camp, students can make real strides towards their college applications and will finish the camp with professionally edited personal statements, essays, and activity lists.
Regardless of whether you are applying to competitive schools or not, the summer is the best time for students to get ready for college applications.
Violet Wei is a College Counselor and Outreach Coordinator.