As high schools across the country graduate their seniors and close the doors for summer, it’s time to make a plan for two months of college preparation. Just because you’re not headed to one of those high-priced leadership programs (they’re not worth the money, anyway) or signed up for a college course or two doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty you can do right now to position yourself for application season in the fall.
Here are six ideas you can use, starting today:
1. Test prep. You’ve probably taken the SAT and/or ACT at least once. If you’re thinking about sitting for one of these tests again in the fall, work test prep into your summer. Get the official guide, and start taking practice sections (score them, too, so you can keep track of the kinds of questions that give you trouble). You can find more prep ideas here.
2. School research. The Internet is a great place to start determining where you want to apply. Get a copy of the Fiske Guide to Colleges, too, and read advice on school selection here.
3. Passion. Seriously. Spend time doing something you love, whether it’s photography, music, working with kids, etc. If you don’t have a passion, what’s always intrigued you? Now is the time to jump in and try something new. Think creatively about how you can ramp up your experiences and talents. Your summer experiences may well inform your application essay, which may be what sets your application apart from the crowd.
4. Interview practice. Get comfortable talking about yourself. The College Board website has an excellent article on interviewing that covers all the bases. Use it to make a list of questions and ask a parent or another adult to conduct a mock interview with you.
5. Write your application essay. After years of consulting with students on their essays, and writing Write Your Way into College and Goof-Proof College Admissions Essays, the College Admissions Examiner has some great ideas about how to approach it. Summer is the perfect time to craft an essay that lets admissions officers get a glimpse of who you really are.
6. Get a job. In the ideal world your job would line up with your passion, but it’s not always possible to get paid to do what you love. Even if your job isn’t one that allows you to follow your passion, it will add to your savings, help define what you do or don’t want to do in the future, and help show college admission officials your work ethic.
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