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College Bound: Top achievers should use summer to prepare for applications

Posted June 28, 2011 8:38 p.m. EDT

For those rising seniors that are on top of their academics and preparing for the college admissions process, summer can be a life saver for your sanity in the fall. With more and more schools offering Early Actions and Decisions, many rising seniors will find that most of their applications are due in October and November. A little early planning can insure a seamless and not quite as hectic journey.

Although most applications won’t be available until August, rising seniors can still use the summer time to prepare for the application process. If you know that you are applying to schools that use the Common Application, begin thinking about what your essay will be about. Take time to brainstorm topics you may wish to write about, as well as remember those anecdotes that may paint a vivid picture
of who you truly are. Remember, your college essay is an opportunity to give the admissions reader an inside look at the real you. Don’t waste time writing about something that can clearly be gleaned from the application.

If the schools you are applying to offer Early Decision or Early Action, begin discussing this with your family. While the acceptance rate for those applying Early Decision is slightly higher, most Early Decision’s are binding, meaning that if accepted, you agree to withdraw all other applications and attend that institution. Deciding to apply Early Decision means that regardless of cost, your family is willing and able to foot the bill. Often, an Early Decision is made before learning about financial aid which could create a hardship on the family and must be considered before you submit an application.

Finally, make a plan for the fall and pace yourself. Be aware of what applications are due when. Before scheduling trips and activities in the fall, check to make sure that you will have time to meet your application requirements by that time. With a bit of organization and planning, your senior year should be full of fun memories, and not about the stress of applications!

Christine M. Hall, Ed.D., is owner of CMH College Consulting in Cary. She'll offer advice on the college application and decision process here on Go Ask Mom from time to time. Learn more about Hall's services on the CMH College Consulting website. And see other tips from Hall in the box above.

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