Congratulations! You’ve made it this far! While it’s tempting to simply slather on that sunscreen and make a dash for the pool, keep in mind that this is your last summer before you undertake the herculean task of the high school senior year.
You’ll want to make every moment count because any little bit of free time is time wasted on something more important. It’s okay to not have a social life this one summer because the summer before college will be the most relaxed time in your entire existence. Slaving away this one year won’t feel so bad when you get into the college of your dreams.
For your summertime, ditch your swimsuit and opt to:
1. Visit colleges if you haven’t already.
This will give you an idea about the kind of college setting you want to spend the next four or more years of your life. Also, be sure to take an official tour through the university. You want them to have some record that you visited because this shows your interest in attending. Sometimes, when choosing between two equal candidates, they’ll pick the person who has shown more interest in their university.
2. Email admissions officers just to tell them who you are and ask questions.
Be careful with what you say, because colleges keep track of every email a potential student sends. Check your spelling and grammar! You don’t want to come off as careless. Also, ask questions that aren’t on the website, because many times, admissions officers don’t like it when people just ask about things that anyone can look up. You’ll want your questions to be relevant.
When you first email someone, you can say something like:
“Hi, My name is (Name). I’m a (Year in High School) from (Your School) in (Where Your School Is). I’m interested in learning more about (Name of College/University). Can someone from the admissions office help me get more information about (AP/IB scores, majors/minors, athletics, etc.)? Thank you and I look forward to hearing from admissions soon.”
You can change the format in any way you want, as long as you’re sending a good first impression email. Also, when you message admissions offices, stick to one person for all your emails. You don’t want to shuffle between person to person when you can get all the information and help you need from one counselor.
[Read Related: The Brown Girl’s Guide to College Part 1: High School Never Ends]
3. Finalize your list of colleges.
Talking to the counselors and visiting campuses should’ve solidified your final list. Try to keep a list of five to ten colleges. It’s good to apply to a lot of schools in order to have a better chance of getting into a school you really like.
However, you’ll want to put more focus on a couple of schools so that you can have good essays and interviews. Also, why stress yourself more than you need to?
Divide your final picks into three types of colleges. The first is your safety schools; they’re the ones you can easily get into. The second is your mid-range schools. You feel you might have a chance, but you’re unsure. The third is your reach schools. They’re like mid-range schools, but you’re not sure that you’ll get in. Not to say that you won’t get into a reach; however, the acceptance rates and statistics may seem daunting to you.
4. Look into scholarships.
It’s way better to get this done now before school starts. This is such a tedious process and you’ll want to finish it as soon as you can. Make sure you make note of the essay topics, deadlines, and the dates the applications come out. Most scholarships don’t come out until August. Apply to everything you possibly can.
Honestly, it will all pay off in the end when you have a bunch of little scholarships under your belt. Try to apply for scholarships offered both by universities and outside organizations. Remember that you should always verify if a scholarship is real or not. A real scholarship won’t ask for your credit card number or any major financial documents. If they do, you must ask them why they need it and then discuss the matter with your parents.
Don’t give away your own or your family’s financial information to anyone until you can verify that it’s a legitimate scholarship. You won’t have this problem with university scholarships, but third party ones can get a bit sketchy. Do your research and then apply to as many as humanly possible.
So there you have it, a plan for the summer before your senior year! I know it’s a lot to do in just two months, but I guarantee you that it will make your senior year less hectic than it needs to be. The more you finish over the summer, the less you have to worry about for the fall. I suggest that you religiously follow a schedule of trying to get a little bit done every single day. It’ll add up by the end of August and it won’t feel like you did that much work at all.
Good luck college hunting and we’re here to help, so leave any questions below.