Welcome to the final segment of a 4-part Veritas Prep College Readiness Series! Each segment will cover what students can do to prepare for college. Today’s blog post will give 12th graders advice on what they can do to make sure they have a stellar college application. Check out our high school freshman, sophomore, and junior readiness articles too!
Dear 12th Graders:
The last 11 years have all boiled down to this one year full of fun, excitement, friends and…college applications! While senior year of high school can often leave you with some of the best memories of your life, it’s important to not let it distract you too much from your ultimate goal: college admission. Here are some tips on how to keep everything together during your last year of grade school.
(1) Start Writing College Application Essays
It’s never too early during your senior year to start writing college application essays. In fact, I advise many students to start writing their essays the summer before senior year even starts. A college application essay is more important than just about any other composition you have written so far in your life. So it’s essential that you dedicate the time necessary to create an essay that is compelling, interesting, and most importantly: you! You may want to have your parents, English teachers, and others that you trust proofread your essays in order to get different opinions on how you could improve it.
(2) Research Scholarships
In addition to writing college application essays, you should also be writing plenty of scholarship application essays during your senior year of high school. Over 99% of scholarships offered to high school students are actually only offered to high school seniors. So now is the time to cash in on all of the hard work you’ve put in for the past three years of high school. In order to do so, start writing down a list of scholarships that are relevant to you as well as noting when their deadlines are. In addition, look for local scholarships offered to students in your community. Local scholarships have a smaller applicant pool, which means you have a better chance of winning them. For some secrets on getting scholarships, check out my other article.
(3) Collect Letters of Recommendation Early
Because most college applications are due in December/January, teachers are typically flooded with requests for letters of recommendations during this time. This usually results in teachers not spending as much time on each letter, and often using a cookie-cutter template for every student who requests a letter of recommendation. Instead, you should beat the rush by asking the teachers who you would like to write a recommendation for you early, such as in September or October. This will give teachers more time to write you a thoughtful and unique letter of recommendation. Plus, some scholarships require letters of recommendation from teachers; so asking early could actually be necessary.
After the Fall semester when you’ve turned in your college applications, it’s time to kick back and relax. If possible, take a lighter course load in the Spring; you deserve it! Don’t worry, doing so won’t affect your college admissions chances. Go to dances, attend sports games, and enjoy your last semester of high school. You’ve worked hard for the past four years, and there’s nothing better than taking some time to relax as you await exciting news in April!
Shaan Patel, who scored a perfect 2400 on the SAT, is the Director of SAT programs at Veritas Prep and author of McGraw-Hill’s bestselling book SAT 2400 in Just 7 Steps.