Rising high school seniors need to make this summer productive if they are looking for scholarships to help pay their college tuition next year. These next two months should be a time for pursuing academic and extracurricular interests that enhance college applications and increase chances for leadership and academic scholarships. It’s the last chance to impress admissions officers, so you want your teens engaged in something meaningful in order to have the best chance at getting in and landing coveted scholarships.
Students who undertake meaningful summer experiences differentiate themselves from their peers. Those students are the students admissions officers are looking for. Here’s some tips on how we recommend high school students spend the summer before their senior year:
Do What You Love
For the rising senior, summer is a time for growth. Having fun is allowed and even encouraged! So how can you have a summer that’s fun, but also meaningful and leads the kind of character development that colleges want? Encourage your teen to do something that challenges them to stretch their thinking. This summer is about exploring what sparks their passions and may lead to declaring a major that reflects that passion, not just a passing interest. Inspire them to make the summer experience an extension of who they are and who they may want to be in the future.
Consider the College Essay
In “Crafting Your College Essay,” a free download on the College Path Consultants website, we discuss how to follow the advice of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.” Creating that meaningful journey over the summer allows students to grow in ways that will reflect in their maturity, life experiences, and “voice,” particularly as it pertains to the essay on the Common Application.
Start a Community Project
Student-based initiatives like Diversity Leadership Project allow students to hone their communication skills, become campus leaders and gain favorable admission to competitive colleges where diversity is highly-valued. These students are garnering huge scholarships for creating and executing community-based projects – and college admissions officers are paying attention.
Visit Colleges and File Applications
Early action/early decision deadlines come just a few weeks after school starts in the fall. Vanderbilt for example, recently admitted 40 percent of incoming freshmen during the early decision process. Visiting colleges and filing an application for early action shows the applicant is enthusiastic about the school, and most qualified applicants generally apply to colleges before the early decision deadline. Before you apply, though, you will need to make a campus visit. Most colleges expect you to schedule an official campus tour. If you skip this essential part of the relationship building process, don’t be surprised if your application is rejected or wait-listed, even with your “safety” schools.
Inspire your teen to become their own self-advocate and develop new relationships with their target schools. Ongoing communication with admissions advisors, attending admissions events, and making an official campus visit are definite advantages when an application comes before the Admissions Committee. If admissions counselors know your child and the contributions they can make as a student, it makes the decision a no-brainer. In short, the more substantive contact your teen has with the school, the better their chances for admission.
Summer can be a time of relaxation for both parent and student. However, by taking a few necessary steps now you can avoid some of the college planning stress that comes with senior year. A little dedicated time during the summer dedicated to college admissions tasks will reduce stress, increase admissions and scholarship opportunities, and make the college planning process and fun and meaningful time in your student’s life.
Certified College Planner Randall Bedwell has helped hundreds of students find the “right fit” college and receive thousands of dollars in leadership, academic, and athletic scholarships. For more information, go to email@example.com.