Monday, May 19, 2014

Summer Suggestions for Rising Seniors

In the end of school year frenzy, it’s sometimes difficult to think ahead.  But for this year’s rising seniors, planning summer activities is important.  It’s a last chance to pursue an activity or work experience before filling out college applications, and it’s also an opportunity to get organized before the hectic process of applying begins.

Before your student turns in textbooks and cleans out his or her locker, check out these reminders for the end of junior year:

Here are five recommendations for your student’s summer to-do list:

1) Get a job!  College admissions officers comment that they see fewer and fewer (middle class) students applying with job experience. Demonstrating  paid work experience is an asset to any application, plus it can be a head start on saving spending money for college.

2) Get organized for senior fall.   Sort through your pile of homework papers, tests and essays—toss most of it but keep: a file of graded essays as some colleges require you to upload a graded research paper as a supplement, any notes or tests you might need to review for AP or other exams.   Make a file or label a box in which to keep all the college literature you’re receiving in the mail and during campus visits.  Design two spreadsheets: one to compare notes on different schools and another to track your college application timeline/calendar from this summer through senior spring.  Here are sample templates:  college comparison  and application timeline.

3) Take a practice ACT exam to see if this format might be preferable to the SAT exam.  (Many students take the “practice” SAT, the PSAT during junior year.  Some take the PLAN, the ACT “practice” test.)  Check out test prep books from the library or purchase some to review for any fall exams you’ve scheduled.  There are many test prep courses and coaches available—I recommend these mostly for students who need to bolster their comprehension of an academic subject or need external motivation to study.

4) Tour local college or university campuses.  Try to visit different kinds of schools from large, urban research universities to smaller liberal arts colleges.  Take virtual tours of campuses further away or visit while on family vacations.

5) Complete a first draft of your personal statements.  You will need at least two if you plan on applying to the University of California system.  Sign up for a personal statement boot camp or consultation through Peninsula Young Writers.

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