Are you are heading toward your senior year of high school? If so, do you want to be totally stressed out as admissions deadlines approach, or would you rather get some work done ahead of time to make things easier three months from now? Summer is the best time to prepare for college applications.
Your senior year will be busy. You will probably be visiting college campuses, formulating your list of schools and taking SAT subject tests, in addition to balancing your regular plate of schoolwork and activities. So it’s important to do anything you can do for your college applications now.
If you want to avoid last minute panic, follow these suggestions and get a jump start on your college applications:
1. Prepare for college applications by reading and contemplating the Common Application Questions for 2018-19. Here they are:
2018-2019 Common Application Essay Prompts
- Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
- Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
2. Take notes.
If you are having essay-worthy experiences this summer, don’t trust that your memory will recall all the details of those experiences. Write them down!! Trust me, it will make the essay writing process SO much easier than it would be with just your memory to rely on.
If you’re not engaged in some interesting activities and adventures this summer, do some self-reflection and find something to jump into. It doesn’t have to be glamorous – you could get a job in a bakery or video store and make an essay out of it. A great essay is more about who you are and how you experience your life than about the actual things you do.
4. Start gathering Letters of Recommendation.
If you haven’t already, ask your teachers NOW for letters of recommendation. They will appreciate having the extra time to think and write. See my article High School Seniors: Start Now on Your Letters of Recommendation (LORs)!
5. Write an essay draft.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just get something down on paper. It will get your ideas flowing and take off some of the pressure you might otherwise experience in the fall.
6. Talk to your parents and friends about your ideas.
And if you do write an essay draft, share it with others. They might have insights into your experiences and growth that you don’t have. After all, you only have one brain and it can only recognize so much about itself!
7. Download the Common Application Form.
You can prepare for college applications by filling out all the generic information you can (name, address, etc.). Get those details out of the way so they don’t clutter your brain and you can focus on writing your essays.
Follow these six suggestions and you will have much more peace and brain space so you can focus on your other senior year activities – and you’ll have more FUN too!!