1. Write your story
Every college will want you to write about yourself, no matter the specifics of their essay questions. If you write a personal statement about how you’ve become who you are, using details from your life, you’ll be able to modify that essay for all your applications. It’s much easier to think about this question before school begins.
2. See how colleges will see you
Fill out a little bit of The Common Application every day for a week. This very thorough application can serve as the prototype for all other applications. In the college’s eyes, this application is you.
3. Talk to your teachers
Yes. Talk to your teachers during the summer. Letters of reference come from junior year teachers who have already gotten to know you. Every college asks for reference letters. Give your teachers the extra time over the summer, when they are not rushed, to write about every aspect of your achievements.
4. Get a taste of what’s out there
There’s more to colleges than their websites. You’ll find that out as soon as you actually visit a few campuses. Though there aren’t as many students present during the summer, colleges still offer tours because they know you and your parents are more able to find the time for a visit. Keep visiting colleges during the early fall. You’ll want to compare your impressions of dorm rooms, cafeteria food, and professors in your areas of interest. If at all possible, sit in on a class.
5. Make a list
Start with ten to twenty colleges that you might want to attend. Consider geographic regions, family connections, reputations, areas of interest, and maybe even athletic programs. Call these schools, or submit a request via internet, and ask that they send you information. Some schools have alumni who live near you, and want to share their experiences with you. Once you’ve done your research, make a list.
6. Do something you can put on paper
Use your free time in summer wisely. College like to see what you do when you aren’t in school. Be creative. Be productive. Earn money, get experience, help others, and/or join a club. If you do something that relates to your future possible major, that’s even better.
7. Get a notebook
Or just open a new computer file. It doesn’t matter where you decide to write, just write. Journal about your summer experiences and who you want to be for the next few years. The better you know yourself, the easier it is to communicate with others. Journaling will help you develop life long skills.
8. Know your test
What standardized test, SAT or ACT, are you going to take? When are you going to take it? Use your results from the test you took during the fall in order to make your decision. Prepare for the test by addressing your weak spots, and decide which SAT II subject tests best suit you. Plan on taking test prep course and sign up. Spots fill up quickly in the fall.
9. College costs money
We all know this fact very well. Evaluate your financial aid situation, and perhaps speak to a professional about your options. There are private scholarships, but they’re not your only option.
10. Magazines, Articles, and Books
When you read, you absorb the words and thoughts of very intelligent writers. Some thing is bound to rub off; in fact, experts are sure of it. The best way to grow your vocabulary and your thinking power is to read. Keep a list of all the new words you learn.