“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.
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.
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!
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