To-Do List For College Apps

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Are you currently either thinking about college applications or already starting the process? For high school students who want to go to college after earning their high school diploma, starting undergraduate education at a top college or university and earning a bachelor’s degree is a huge step! High school students who are about to begin their senior year will want to check out this quick to-do list to see how you can take advantage of what’s left of the summer!

1. Narrow down the list of colleges you want to apply to!

High school seniors should dedicate time to narrowing down which higher education institutions are of their interest.

The goal is to build a balanced college list that includes “reach schools”, “match schools” and “safety schools” that are likely to admit them. Students should think about applying between four and eight colleges, and students should definitely always consider applying to at least two to three if they want to attend a four-year university.

2. Visit college campuses, perhaps even virtually!

The summer months constitute the perfect time to go visit college and get an idea of what life could be like at a potential college institution. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, prospective students should seriously take advantage of virtual college tours that are accessible fully online. These online tours are a great way for students to get to know a college campus while times are complicated.

3. Start working on college essays.

First, after having narrowed down the list of colleges to apply to, students should check out all the required personal statements that each school requires. Then they can get started on the college app essays!

Getting an early start on college app essays gives prospective students the time to work through multiple drafts. Students can use time to turn to their friends and family for help when answering these questions.

4. Start asking for letters of recommendation.

Colleges and universities often require letters of recommendation written by teachers or school counselors. Take the summer to at least start thinking about who you would like to ask to write your letter of recommendation. Quality letters of recommendation take time and effort to write so it is best to give your teachers or school counselors advanced notice ahead of time.

5. Come up with your list of extracurricular activities.

Students can take time during the summer to start compiling their list of extracurricular activities. These activities can include work experiences and family obligations in addition to school-sponsored sports, clubs and activities.

6. Begin scholarship research.

Many scholarships require other application components. Many students rely on financial aid to be able to foot the bill for college tuition. Scholarships are also quite competitive so doing research ahead of time can be quite helpful.

7. Study for standardized college entrance exams.

High school students can also begin studying for the SAT or ACT in order to prepare for college entrance exams.

8. Figure out what the financial aid requirements are.

Students and parents can learn about the financial aid requirements that each school has. There are many kinds of financial aid, including grants, scholarships, work-study and federal or private student loans.

You may end up having to fill out the College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS Profile) or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

9. Consider using the summer to work or volunteer! Online jobs work just fine in times of coronavirus.

Volunteering or landing a job during the summer can help boost your college applications! As the novel coronavirus pandemic has made working and interning this summer more challenging, students can try to look for online positions that can help them get some experience while respecting social and physical distancing.

10. Use social media intelligently.

College admissions officers are known to take a look at college applicants’ social media accounts. It is important to make sure that your social media posts are appropriate. Students can also go the extra mile and try to create something of a digital portfolio that shows off their other skills such as leadership, understanding of teamwork, time management and resilience.

11. Connect with alumni.

Prospective students can reach out to admissions offices to get in contact with current college students.

12. Begin to fill out applications.

If some of your colleges and universities already have their applications available and open, consider starting to fill them out!

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