Image from Dreamatico.

The summer before senior year is the countdown. The time is ticking until the CommonApp comes out on August 1st, the SAT is taken in October, and college applications that need to be submitted by January (or early applications are due by November). It is about to be a very busy fall, but your work can easily be alleviated by working through some things during the summer. You’ve got some extra time on your hands, even if you’re busy with a job, summer programs, or family vacations, so putting it to good use by giving you free time later will help you in the long run.

Senior year is a much anticipated time for students, as it’s the time of many lasts: last first day, last school dance, last school day, last time you may be seeing many people, so you’ll need the time to make the most of it.

So what exactly do you need to work on this summer?

Draft Your College List

The Prospect is filled with articles on figuring out what you want in a college, so I won’t go much into that. However, summer before senior year, when it’s practically time to go to college, is the perfect time to figure that out. Many people go on summer tours, too, if time and money affords, to get all the information about the schools they are interested in. Since you may know many people who just graduated or are in college, asking them about their college experiences and expectations is a great way to learn more about the colleges from someone close to you. One of the best things to do is make a spreadsheet with all the information about the colleges including location, majors, activities, and expected financial aid as well as scholarships that you could get, which brings me to….

Scholarship Spreadsheet

College is very expensive, so any help that you can get in paying for it is great. This time is a good time to figure out what scholarships you could get and apply for, so make another spreadsheet organizing these scholarships! Make sure to note due dates, necessary application materials, as well as time when it’ll be posted (since most are not posted until fall or spring of senior year). If any are available now, work on them! Local scholarships are the easiest to get so apply to as many as you can to get the most help! Here’s a list of some you can apply to right now!

College Essays

One of my biggest regrets was not working on my college essays during the summer before my senior year. Even if all your essay prompts haven’t come out, some of them definitely have. Also, you probably already know which schools have the ubiquitous “Why Us?” essays and those are really good prompts to research during the summer, since those schools love having specifics in those prompts.

It’s summer, I know, the time of relaxation, but if you want some respite during the grind of college application season, work on some of these things now to give you less to work on later! Good luck!

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