1. Begin working on your college essays – The Common App essay prompts are released prior to summer so students can get a head start on them. State schools usually have their essays out by summer too. Start working on them now so you won’t be as stressed come application season. As you work on your essays, share them with a parent or mentor for feedback.
2. Decide whether you need to take or retake the SAT or ACT – If you haven’t already taken the SAT or ACT you should plan on doing so. If you already have taken the SAT or ACT, look at your score and decide if you would benefit from taking the exam again. Compare your scores to the average scores of the schools you are applying to and decide if it is worth your time to re-test. Also be sure to check the testing requirements at all the schools you are interested in as this differs at all schools.
3. Build up a list of schools to apply to – Make sure the list is balanced and includes safety, match, and reach schools. This is a very important step. Research schools and see where you fall in comparrison to their recently admitted students. Choose schools that you could see yourself at and schools that have the major you are interested in. Be sure to include at least one state school on your list.
4. Visit colleges – Try to tour all the local colleges in your area to get a feel for the different campuses. And if you and your family can swing it, visit schools farther away that you are interested in. Make sure to take a tour, spend time on your own walking around the campus, and meet with an admissions officer and someone in the department you are interested in if possible.
5. Finalize Recommendations – Most schools (but not all) will ask for one or more letters of recommendation. It is a good idea to figure out who you would like to ask before you apply. Start brainstorming possible choices and get in touch with the people you will be asking. Once you figure out who is writing your letters of rec, inform them that sometime in the fall they will be notified by the application or the school to upload the letters. And remember once they do upload their letter of recommendation to thank them via email.
6. Work – Now is the time to add to your resume. Whether you do volunteer work, an internship, or take on a part-time job, all of these experiences will look good on your college application. Plus it is a great way to meet new people and expand your skills.
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