Yesterday was May 1, the day most seniors heading to college were required to declare where they were intending to enroll. In counseling offices across America, students came in to announce their choice with pride, thank their counselors for all they’d done, and hope their senior prank doesn’t go as badly as the one in New Jersey where 60 seniors are both in doubt of graduating, and in the computer system of the New Jersey State Police.
With the seniors taken care of, all college attention now turns to the Class of 2015. You’ll want to make the most of your 364 days to your College Decision Day; here’s some advice on how to spend the first 120 or so.
Finish Strong Seniors heard this advice last month because they could lose their admission offer if their grades get bad. Juniors need to heed this advice because they could get fewer offers in the first place without a robust junior year. This is the last full year of grades colleges will see, and that’s important. Prom is too, but keep everything in perspective, and study, study, study.
Check the CTCL Web Site You should spend part of your senior summer making sure you have a complete college list, and a unique college fair can help you achieve that goal. The Colleges That Change Lives Information Sessions and College Fairs showcase 44 of the most student-centered colleges in the country. Most are small, and some don’t have football teams—but a conversation with each one will help you clarify the qualities you’re looking for in your next school. The Fairs are held in the summer—go towww.ctcl.org/events/programs and find the Michigan event at Dearborn's Henry Hotel on Monday, August 25 at 7:00 PM.
Jump on Your Essays: NOT Many seniors say the biggest challenge of applying to college was finding the time to write the essays. The homework load of a demanding senior schedule (make sure you have one) makes it hard to find the blocks of free time needed for good writing; that’s why they’ll tell you to start your essays in July. Common Application essays will be the same as last years at www.commonapp.org.
I don’t follow that advice—instead, I say, start in August. August essays give you plenty of time to write well, and they can help get your brain back into school mode, making it easier to do well on that demanding senior schedule. Your goal is to have the one big Common Application essay done by the start of school. You can find the essay topics athttp://tinyurl.com/o2flnzl.
The second reason the essays wait is because this is your last summer in high school. Yes, it’s important to work hard and study, and some of you are heading to summer programs or test prep activities in July. Those all matter, but so does having time to hit the beach, read several books for pleasure, and/or invent the next app that will revolutionize technology. You’ll do a great job with your essays in August, but in order to write about life, you have to have one; spend July remembering what yours is all about, and you’ll be more college ready come August.
There are two reasons you don’t start college essays in July. First, the essays are likely to get stale. If you work on an essay a little at a time for three months, you come to like it less and less over three months. Your essay needs to be fresh and energetic, and, like soda, it’s hard to find the fizz when the can is open too long.
Jump into Summer You're almost a senior! Play it safe this summer, visit colleges, practice your ACT/SAT, read, laugh and hone your college list started in your Junior Conference. Soon, September will arrive and you'll be ready!
By: Patrick O'Connor, with edits and additions by John Boshoven
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