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Rising Seniors: Here's your Summer College "To-Do" List!

Want to make your upcoming college application season easier? Get started on some key “to-do” items this summer. Deadlines come up fast in the fall, especially if you are planning to apply Early Action or Early Decision. Even if you plan to apply Regular Decision, keep in mind that some schools have earlier deadlines if you want to be considered for scholarships. If you can cross these 5 items off your list this summer, before you get busy with classes, sports, and clubs at school, you will be ahead of the game and ready to focus on the individual school applications when they release on August 1st!


Research Colleges and Build Your List

Use the summer to do a deep dive into college research. Use sites like Big Future, College Express, and College Data. Explore a school’s website, sign up for emails and their social media accounts. Consider the majors they offer and special programs. Visit if you can, but if you can’t, sign up for a virtual tour or watch YouTube videos about the school to get a feel for the campus. I recommend compiling a list of 8-12 schools you plan to apply to by end of August. This list should include a balance of Reach, Match and Likely schools. How can you decide which school is a Reach or Match? Look at the data. Consider their admit rate, their average GPA and test scores from last year's freshmen. Where do you fall in comparison? Make sure that each school on your list is one you will be excited to attend!

Make A Common App Account

Although the Common App updates each year on August 1st, you can still get started building your college application now. Visit the Common App account online and make an account. Record your password! Explore the website and become familiar with it. If you click on the “Common App” tab on your dashboard, you will open up the basic personal information section of the application. You can start working on this part this summer. Make sure you have your correct GPA, information about your parents’ education, your course list for next year, and a list of your activities and involvement. (NOTE: Don’t worry about adding the colleges you will apply to just yet – all the individual school applications will update August 1st so anything you fill out for them now will get deleted in the refresh.)

Start Writing Your Common App Personal Statement

The most labor-intensive part of the application is often the Common App essay. Start brainstorming now! This is often the first (and sometimes only) essay admissions will read. What is your headline? How do you want to introduce yourself? What is the most important thing you want a college to know about you? Start with these questions and choose a topic that will show your personal growth, independence and/or maturity. You can also review the prompts in the Common App writing section and pick the one that fits your approach to the essay. Try to get this essay written and revised before school starts!

Make a College Resume:

If you don’t have a resume, make one this summer! A college resume will have a slightly different focus than a resume for employment. You want to include your education, graduation date, extracurricular activities, awards, sports, summer activities and hobbies and interests. Choose the categories that work best for you! Make sure your resume highlights your best work and attributes! You can find many good templates online.

Get Organized

Make a spreadsheet listing all your colleges. Include application deadlines, each school’s application requirements, required essays, required teacher recommendations, scholarship deadlines, etc. Create a Google Folder for all things college and keep all of your essay drafts, documents, spreadsheets, and research notes here. Make a list of your passwords. Staying organized is key to a less stressful college application season!

Applying to college can be stressful, but with a little planning, forethought and work this summer, you can set yourself up for success this fall! Need help? Contact me!

Kelly Clinch

Clinch College Consulting

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