Hear the chirping birds? Feel a bit warmer than usual? Spring is upon us, and two weeks from now, the first new SAT test will be administered. I’ve spent the past four weeks reviewing the changes and strategies, so I’m going to take a break from writing about the new SAT to focus on an equally important subject: college admissions.
Juniors, by now you are in the heart of your spring semester, possibly the hardest of your entire high school career, but it is worth considering just how you will tackle your college admissions applications. As with anything else, planning and preparation are key, and while it may seem like it’s too early to think about the gritty details of getting into college, it is crucial that you have the right state of mind and approach.
Let’s admit it (see what I did there?), college admissions applications are daunting. You need a lot of materials; require the help of teachers, parents and friends; and must write those pesky college admissions essays. So what exactly should you do during spring?
1) Mentally prepare yourself for several intense months.
Many people will not seriously think about college until the beginning of their senior year. This is a mistake. Once school ends this year, you’re officially a senior, and college admissions season begins. During summer, most students research, work, vacation, take college-credit classes, and study for the SAT and ACT. All of these activities are important, so you obviously shouldn’t ignore them, but regardless of your plans, you need to treat summer break as an essential part of your college application timeline. In an ideal world, you would finish all of your applications before the beginning of your senior year, but that’s a lofty goal.
2) Tighten up efforts to stand out in your classes and extracurriculars.
Now that college is on your mental radar, you should fill any potential resume gaps. If you have missed club meetings, start becoming an active member again. If you haven’t really volunteered or gained experience relevant to your desired major, then set up those hours. Starting now obviously isn’t the best-case scenario, but it will be much better to make some effort than to completely leave this information off your resume. Plus, you may even use something from this time on your college admissions essays. The same goes for your classes. You will need recommendation letters, so if you have been quiet and passive in class, it is time to make a change. For your recommenders, it is not sufficient that you get good grades. You need to show your teachers that you take initiative and are naturally curious.
3) Start getting your application materials together.
Sometimes the hardest part of doing something is getting started. Where do you begin? How can you tackle this monumental task? Well, in the spring you can chip away at some of these beginnings. You can make a folder on your computer that says “College Admissions 2016-2017.” That’s one important step. You can also add subfolders, such as “Essays,” “Application Materials,” and “Official Forms.” For your “Application Materials,” you can vet potential recommenders, create a rough draft of your resume, and make a list of possible colleges and majors. Just get the ball rolling by creating loose outlines and basic drafts. You will be surprised how much can get accomplished when you’re just “messing around.”
That’s it! Nothing too hard, right? You can think of this post like a light reminder that one of the most important parts of your high school career is on the horizon. I’m sure you didn’t forget, but after multiple nights of going to bed at 3AM, you may just need a gentle nudge. Get ready. Get excited. And here at B2A, we have several programs to help you with college admissions, so do check them out!