In addition to taking a break from school and ideally doing something of value in an area of interest, the summer can be an outstanding time to dive into the college application process.  Even just working an hour or two a week can make a big difference in the overall process and workload. 

Here are a few tips on how to make the most of those summer months in order to ease your stress during the Fall of your senior year:

  • Aim to walk into summer with a “working final” college list of 8-12 schools. While your list doesn’t necessarily have to be final by the start of the summer, having a strong “working list” should be an ideal goal, so that you can make the most of your time during the summer.  This will inform things like which applications to start working on, which colleges to target for demonstrated interest (if any), what essays to explore and more.
  • Take inventory on the work ahead. Will you just need to complete just Common Application? Any others? When are they available? How many essays are required? Letters of Recommendation? If you have not already, I would suggest making a master spreadsheet of the tasks ahead.
  • Next, break up these tasks into weekly goals. What can you be doing each week in order to work toward those larger, long-term goals.  For example, maybe you have two weeks dedicated solely to essay brainstorming exercises.  The following week could be fleshing out each of these ideas, then determining a topic to run with. Or one week dedicated to creating a profile on all relevant application accounts.
    • Get in the habit of setting aside time each week. Maybe you work at the same day and time each week (e.g., every Sunday 9-11am), or maybe it varies, but try to set up a regular working time in order to maintain consistency and get in the habit of regularly working on college applications. (This will be incredibly helpful in the Fall as well).
    • Develop organizational systems. The systems you set up over the summer will be extremely beneficial as you move into the official college application process.  For example, the summer can be a great time to create a document summarizing your supplemental writing prompts. As you pull them together in one place, you will discover any possible overlap. 
  • Assess progress at the end of every month If you can, try and step back to assess your progress every month. What were you able to accomplish toward your weekly and monthly goals? What roadblocks did you hit that we can prevent in the future? Where do you need help most, from your counselor, parents, etc?

The more productive you can be over the summer, the easier the stress load will be in the Fall.  And this can be a very exciting time to start jumping into! Happy (almost) summer!