10 Things You Should Be Doing to Prep for College the Summer Before Senior Year

transition into college“I am going into my Senior year of high school. What can I do to prep for college this summer?” Sound familiar? Summer is halfway over, and while you’ve been out with friends swatting away mosquitos and dipping your feet into pools, Veritas Prep has been here gathering the most important information about what you should be doing to prep for the last year of high school!

We had a chance to catch up with Stephanie Fernandez, former Assistant Director of Admissions for Northwestern University, and she has some tips and tricks to help keep you motivated this summer and to eliminate stress when the regular school year starts up again.  Trust us, it’ll be here before you know it!  Stephanie broke down the things you should be doing into two major categories: application work and involvement work.

Application Work

Stephanie says, “get a jump start on visiting as many colleges as financially possible.  If you go to the schools, you can get the best vibe.  Colleges can sound great on paper, but visiting is the best thing you can do to help you refine your target school list.”  Whew.  Great advice indeed.  Maybe you grew up wearing a University of Michigan sweatshirt, and then you go there and realize… “Oh my god! It’s even better than I expected! Go blue!” (I might be a bit biased, but you get the point.)

Additionally, Stephanie suggests that you start working on the Common App Personal Statement.  If you aren’t applying to schools that utilize the Common App, start on any of their essays that have been released early.  As soon as school starts, you will be busy juggling extracurricular activities, spending time with your friends, homework, classes, and all of the other obligations you deal with throughout the academic year – too many responsibilities to give these essays your full attention.  Starting over the summer will really eliminate a lot of stress as you head into your senior year.  

Also, there’s this wacky idea that Senior year isn’t difficult because you’ll be graduating soon, however remember that it’s really important to maintain the grades and the participation/involvement that you’ve been able to achieve historically. Admissions Committees do not like to see that you’ve arrived at your Senior year and started to slack off.

Involvement Work

Stephanie reminded us that Admissions Committees are most interested in your involvement during the school year because then they can see how you balance all of your activities with usual responsibilities, which is a skill you’ll definitely need to be able to do in college.  That being said, Admissions Committees do not want to see that you’ve been doing nothing.  They want to see some type of progress over the summer.  

Stephanie gave us some great suggestions for how students about to enter their Senior Year should spend time over the summer, and we’re going to pass them along to you. You can: 

1) Get a part-time job.

2) Find research labs at nearby universities to assist with research.

3) Secure an internship in anything that interests you. This doesn’t have to be related to your major (interning at an art gallery will not prevent you from eventually becoming a doctor)!

4) Give back to your community. Keep in mind, however, that over-doing your volunteer work right before applications are due can make it look like you are trying to pad your application. Make any volunteer or community involvement you do authentic.

5) Test out a career you are considering by finding a professional to shadow.

6) Get involved with sports camps, summer team practice, or personal training. Working with your team over the summer is a great use of time – use this opportunity to establish yourself as a leader of the team (if you haven’t already). Helping the coach schedule meetings or run practices is another good way to establish yourself as a leader. 

As a last reminder, if you haven’t already secured your letters of recommendation (which we recommend you do at the end of your Junior year, if possible), connect with your teachers when school starts up again in the fall, and be sure to ask them for help right away.

That’s it!  A special thanks to Stephanie Fernandez for allowing us to interview her about this topic.  We’ve gotten a lot of questions from applicants just like you about this topic, and she helped us address these concerns!  

Oh, another fun fact, Stephanie now works as one of Veritas Prep’s College Admissions Consultants, so if you need help getting into your dream school, be sure to check-out our variety of college consulting services.  Our team of Admissions Consultants are industry experts. Not only are they strong coaches and mentors throughout the application process, but they have former admissions experience evaluating applicants on behalf of some of the most selective schools in the world.  If you want more personalized advice about how to begin your college application process, using a College Admissions Consultant is the best way to have it! 

Okay, that’s all folks! Now put down the Snapchat and get to work!

Do you need more help navigating the college admissions process? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Lesser-Known Facts That May Contribute to College Acceptance

GMATMost college-bound high school students know the basics when it comes to college acceptance criteria. They understand that college admissions officials look at a student’s grades, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities. But there are some lesser-known factors that can affect a student’s college acceptance chances. Consider just a few examples:

Studying Overseas
College admissions officials take notice of high school students who have studied overseas. A student who has spent time overseas has experience with other cultures. Plus, it’s very likely that the student is fluent in one or more foreign languages. This type of experience and knowledge appeals to colleges looking to fill their freshman class with students who have a unique perspective on the world. In addition, a student who has studied overseas may be able to get credit that counts toward fulfilling a college’s foreign language requirement.

Knowledge of a School
A student’s knowledge of a school can affect their college acceptance chances. College officials appreciate when a student takes the time and effort to learn about the history of their school. In order to get this type of knowledge, a student can ask questions during a campus tour as well as read about the traditions of the school. In short, a student who knows more than what is displayed on a school’s website is going to get the attention of college officials during an interview.

A Record of Taking on Challenging High School Courses
College officials look at whether applicants challenge themselves in high school. In some cases, a student who takes increasingly difficult courses each year is more likely to get a college acceptance letter than a student who excels in classes that are relatively easy. Students who take challenging courses are showing an enthusiasm for learning and a willingness to expand their skills. Colleges want students who are excited about growing academically.

A Strong Admissions Essay
High school students know that writing an admissions essay is a step on the road toward a university acceptance letter. But some students neglect to give this essay the attention it deserves. The admissions essay gives college officials the opportunity to get to know a student in a personal way. For instance, sometimes, students are called upon to write about the biggest influence in their lives. A student’s description of this person can reveal a lot about their level of maturity and goals for the future. A sincere, well-written essay can play an important role in a student’s college acceptance.

A History of Community Service
Students are aware that college admissions officials take a close look at an applicant’s extracurricular activities. Officials like to see students who participate in activities that give them the opportunity to practice their leadership skills. They also appreciate students who serve their community. This may mean volunteering at a local homeless shelter or helping to collect food and clothing items for a local organization that provides hurricane relief. The length of participation in community service is something that college admissions officials look at as well.

Positive Items on Social Media
Today, many high school students have a lot of experience with social media. Chances are good that they have more than one account where they post photographs and communicate with friends. It’s not out of the question for admissions officials at a college to go online to look at an applicant’s communications via social media. Students who have questionable items on their social media pages may leave college admissions officials with the wrong impression. When it comes to college acceptance, information on the Internet can work either for or against an applicant. Students who are applying to college should make sure that all of the items they put on social media are appropriate.

At Veritas Prep, we provide students with a variety of services as they make their way toward college. We offer SAT and ACT prep courses taught by professional instructors who’ve mastered these tests. Also, we provide advice and tips to students regarding their college application. Our consultants worked in the admissions offices of some of the country’s best colleges. In short, we know what college admissions officials are looking for! Contact our offices today and let us know how we can help you on your journey toward higher education.

Do you need help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

What If I'm Not Passionate About Community Service?

MBA Admissions
Recently we received this question from a business school applicant:

“What if I’m not passionate about doing community service, like seemingly every other business school applicant? Does this make me a bad person? I feel like if I were to do this, it would only be to position myself for b-school and I wouldn’t enjoy it very much. What do these elite b-schools look for in terms of community service?”

This is a common problem, and we credit this applicant for taking a step back and asking the question that many applicants think but do not ask out loud.


If you’re not passionate about something, then you definitely should NOT do it! Keep in mind that community service is one more way for you to demonstrate the four core dimensions that admissions officers look for in every applicant: leadership, maturity, innovation, and teamwork. (These four dimensions are described in great detail in great detail in the MBA admissions book Your MBA Game Plan.) If you can demonstrate these with other activities outside of traditional community service organizations, then that’s terrific.

For instance, this applicant said he likes to coach children and young adults in sports. If that’s what he’s passionate about, then great! Helping young people have a positive experience with sports and competition is a terrific way to help one’s community. We could think of all sorts of great things that applicant could discuss in his essays, as long as it’s something that really matters to him.

Also, keep in mind that admissions officers always ask about every applicant, “How has this person made the community/organization around him better?” The obvious answer is with community service, but that’s not the only possibility. Mentoring a struggling co-worker or finding a creative solution to a thorny problem at work are two less obvious — but in some ways even more relevant to the admissions process — ways to demonstrate that you have a positive impact on others wherever you go. This goes for any type of graduate program, not just business school.

For more help in applying to business school, law school, or medical school, call us at 800-925-7737 and talk to one of our admissions experts today!