How to Make College Applications Simple this Summer

Did you know that what you do during summer before senior year can make or break your college application process? It only takes a little planning to set yourself up for success.

When it comes to quality of college applications, level of stress, and college acceptances, there is a clear divide between students who take advantage of their time over the summer and those who do not. We call this threshold the Labor Day Divide. The Summer College Checklist is designed to keep you on the right side of that divide!

Use the Checklist to set yourself up for success in the fall when you need to have specific and final college application tasks finished. Read through each of the steps, pull out your calendar of commitments this summer, and set aside a few windows of time to get crackin'!

To make it efficient and easy for you to get started on your Summer College Checklist, we have bonus tips, examples, and reflective questions to help you wrap your head around each of the items.

There are 11 items on the Summer College Checklist. For guidance with each one, download the complete Student User Guide to the Summer College Checklist!

Do I need to go through the items in order?

The answer? Sort of. We like to say that you can be strategic about what you start and when, and that there is plenty of overlap among the different steps.

For example, setting your goals (item #1) can be the best thing to work on first, because your goals form the basis of your college criteria, as well as the key information that you'll want to communicate to admissions readers through your application. Your high school's required brag sheet or junior questionnaire might ask very specifically about your goals, and often your personal or professional goals form an important piece of your college essays.

If you tend to feel best about starting your work when you are responding to questions, start with responses to University of California Personal Insight Questions or on your high school's brag sheet.

If, on the other hand, you prefer to take a more free-form approach, begin by jotting down some of your goals and doing some stream-of-consciousness brainstorming for your personal statement.

See? It helps to know why and how to use the Checklist in a way that works for you.

Here are the first three items as we have spelled them out, to get you started as you download the rest in the User's Guide.

...Or, let us help you knock each of these items off the list, because it's easier and more fun! Join us for Summer 2018's Carve Your Own Path Program

User's Guide Items 1-3 (out of 11)

#1: Identify Academic, Social & Personal Goals

Our tip:
Start by focusing on something they are good at (aka a strength) and something they need to improve to help determine a meaningful goal.

a social strength is the ability to start up a conversation with anyone; an academic area for improvement might be learning to articulate your thoughts in writing more clearly and concisely.

Question for you:
What is something your student is already good at that they can build upon in college?

#2: Free Associate & Build Out Initial College List

Our tip:
Use the “similar schools” or “college overlaps” functions on popular websites to find the hidden gems out there.

If you look up Oberlin on, perhaps, from the “Similar Schools” bar, you can jump next to one you might never have heard of (Denison? Grinnell?).

Question for you:
How many different colleges are you really familiar with? How far does name brand recognition really go when it comes to college?

#3: Create a Personalized List of Essential College Questions

Our tip:
Keeping a list of 5 - 10 core questions that you ask about every campus will deepen your insights and help to provide a framework for comparing your options later.

Asking “How often do teaching assistants run class?” can help you determine how much emphasis a college places on the undergraduate learning experience.

Question for you:
How can you translate your teenager’s particular goals and needs into incisive questions about a college?

Now is the time to start!

Which item on the checklist is most exciting to you and your student?
Which sounds like it will be the most challenging?

Hey — don't do this alone.

Get into a group that will help you tackle these tasks with ease. Our Carve Your Own Path Summer Program will walk your student through vital college-prep tasks and infuses them with motivation to continue to prepare for fall deadlines! There is still time to sign up for summer 2018.

Learn more and register here. And don't forget to get your free copy of the Summer Checklist + User's Guide now!