A successful college search process starts well before senior year. Besides, there is so much to experience in your last year of high school, you don’t want to be stuck at home stressing about your applications. Here are some things you should do before your senior year to ensure a smooth college application process.
- Start your college essays early. The Common Application is available on August 1. Pick two or three of the essay topics to explore and make an outline for each essay to determine which prompt is the best choice for you. Once you have your topic, start writing! Hint: The essay prompts usually stay consistent from year to year, so you can look at last year’s selection and get started even earlier!
- Create your college list. Visiting campus can really impact your decision to apply to a certain school, so identify five to ten schools to visit over the summer/fall. Seeing too many colleges can be overwhelming and confusing so be thoughtful with your choices. Remember, most campuses look different in the summer versus during the academic year. If you like what you see over the summer, go back for a second look in the fall. Be sure to ask about fly-in programs and overnight opportunities for seniors!
- Stay organized. Start a document that can be easily edited and shared with your family, counselor, and mentors. As you tour schools, update this document with notes about your visit. You should also include all admission and financial aid deadlines and requirements, summer/fall visit programs for seniors, names of people you met (Admissions staff, tour guides, etc.), and any questions, comments, or concerns. Try using this College Tracker. Organization will surely reduce your stress!
- Communicate. Identify time to talk about college with your family (and anyone else involved in your process) so that it doesn’t become a daily stressor. Maybe it’s every Sunday night at dinner, or maybe it’s over doughnuts and coffee on Saturday mornings. Having a special time set aside for these discussions can help them be more productive and less stressful.
- Make time for self-care. Senior year can be stressful – rigorous courses, college applications, standardized tests, jobs, etc. Create a self-care plan to help you stay focused, balanced, and happy. Consider taking a daily walk, trying a weekly meditation or mantra, or even just taking a break from social media. Write out your plan and post it somewhere visible so you remember to take care of yourself this year.
- Have fun! Find your joy, passion, hobbies – and do them! When college stress starts to feel bigger than you, turn toward those things that bring you joy. Remember, the college process is just part of your journey. Don’t let it be all-consuming.
As always, feel free to reach out to your Admissions Officer with any questions. Our office is open all summer. We hope you find time to visit us!