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As a rising senior, you’re nearing the finish line. Before you get there, though, you’re going to be facing the busiest season of your high school career. Getting a head start now will help you have a successful college application season. Here are five college prep tips to help you keep your cool during the summer and get a jump start on 12th grade.

 

 

1. Do Something Productive

You probably know that you should be using the summer to advance your goals and do something toward your future plans and career. This is your last chance really wow colleges with your extracurriculars. There are a number of activities you might explore, such as:

 

 

Exercise your creative thinking and do something that really speaks to your passions and interest. Do you aspire to become a doctor? See whether your local hospital accepts teen volunteers. Are you a writer? Ask a local magazine if they have internships. Even if you’re just getting people coffee, you’re gaining exposure to a possible future career.

 

For more ideas, check out  Step Up Your College Apps Profile with These 11 Summer Activities and 50 Summer Activities for High School Students.

 

 

2. Create a Plan of Action

This fall will be a test of your endurance and organizational skills, and you need to have a plan to make sure everything goes smoothly. Make a list of everything you need to do: applications, asking for recommendations, essays, keeping up with coursework, and engaging with extracurriculars.

 

You could use a calendar, filing system, or another method of organizing your materials and to-do list. Just make sure you create a system that makes sense to you—and will work. If you know you’ll need daily reminders, for instance, you might set up alerts on your phone to tell you to do specific tasks each day.

 

Check out 8 Top Tips to Stay Organized During College Application Season for some suggestions.

 

 

3. Finalize Your College List

Get any last-minute visits and tours out of the way this summer. That way, you can aim to finalize your list before school starts and start your apps as soon as they’re out.

 

This probably isn’t your first draft, but if you’re looking for some guidance, check out Seven Tips for Creating Your College List.

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4. Gather Together Application Materials

Aside from the app itself, you’ll need to send your transcript, test scores, recommendations, and supplementary materials, if you’re including them (such slides for art majors).

 

You can’t get everything now, but you can start preparing. For example, you can make a list of your extracurriculars along with brief descriptions and formulate a plan for when and how to ask your teachers for recommendations.

 

 

5. Take a Peek at the Application

The Common App and Coalition Application usually come out around late summer. Even if you’re not ready to fill them out, browse through the application when it’s out, so you can work on ideas for what to write. You’ll also be able to look at the essay topics, so you can start thinking about which one you’ll choose and how you’ll make it your own.

 

 

6. Avoid Procrastination

Yes, you probably want to sleep or go to the beach. Of course you can relax some, but make sure you’re making headway on your college plans, too. Along with the above college prep tips, make goals for what you need to accomplish before the semester starts. For example, you might set a goal of brainstorming essay ideas for at least two hours one week.

 

You could also create a checklist with the specific tasks you need to accomplish, and incentivize yourself with rewards to keep yourself from procrastinating. After finalizing your college list, for instance, you could reward yourself with a trip to the pool.

 

 

Summing It All Up

You may want to relax this summer, but getting a head start on everything you need to do in the fall will be to your advantage. Use these college prep tips as a guide for working on what you can do: having a fulfilling summer experience, honing your college list, gathering materials, and knowing what to expect in terms of the application itself. Set yourself up for success now; you’ll thank yourself later!

 

Looking for help with your college applications? Check out our College Application Guidance Program. When you sign up for our program, we carefully  pair you with the perfect admissions specialist based on your current academic and extracurricular profile and the schools in which you’re interested. Your personal specialist will help you with branding, essays, and interviews, and provide you with support and guidance in all other aspects of the application process.

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.
Laura Berlinsky-Schine