by College Counseling Associate Director Mr. David Brunk
The college search of yesteryear started in the fall of senior year. As students eased back into physics and five-paragraph essays, they also sifted through some of the college mail which had been piling up next to the wastebasket in the corner of their room. But we live in a different age today. Many seniors have been hard at work on their search for months, while some wake each morning with a vague sense of unease as their subconscious ponders the work yet to be done. Regardless of where students are in their college search, August can and should be a productive month. Maximize this last opportunity to focus on the college search without the distractions senior year inevitably presents.
Goal 1: Finalize Your Common Application Essay
Remember your Common Application essay? You wrote a draft last spring, and some of you have been revising it ever since. There is no reason why you should not have a nearly finished product by the start of senior year. This should be your goal because you will likely have several other essays to write for your individual applications. These institution-specific essays are critically important and require due attention. Admissions officers easily detect hastily written essays, and most hastily written essays are these supplemental pieces. Make your application stand out by giving your supplemental essays all of the care and consideration you give to your Common Application essay. The only way to do this is to give yourself the time you need to put forth your best effort.
The 2021-2022 Common Application is live! Students who created their Common Application account in the junior year should revisit commonapp.org, and complete the few simple steps to roll their information over to the current application year. Most Common Application schools will have their supplements available for review; take a look, and start thinking about how you will respond to the essay prompts.
Goal 2: Prepare for Teacher Recommendations
As you work on your essays, remember that teachers are writing letters of recommendation for you. Take a moment to make sure you have asked two teachers, and that they have everything they need to support you in their letter. Teachers really appreciate some thoughtful reflection from you regarding your experience in their class. Providing this information will make their letters more insightful, personalized, and compelling. These letters can make a real impact on how your applications are reviewed!
Goal 3: Revise Your College List
How do you feel about your college list? Do you think that your list is mostly solidified, or do you have a lot of work to do? Your final list should be manageable (read: not too long!). Is it a realistic list that will result in a range of satisfactory options? Do you have financially viable options on your list? Use these last few weeks of summer to refine your list. It is typically easier to visit colleges over the summer than during senior year, so find a way to see some schools in August if you need to do so.
Plan Now, Thank Yourself Later
The college search is almost invariably stressful. Mitigate your stress by empowering yourself with knowledge and a game plan. If you are behind, use the next month to catch up. Senior year may not have started, but your college counselors are here to work with you. Take advantage of our availability over the summer, because it is a long, drawn-out sprint to the finish line for all of us once the school year begins. We want you to start school with confidence, excitement, and optimism. Do not leave yourself with a mountain to climb on the first day.
You have done an amazing college search under difficult circumstances! Although we saw glimmers of hope that this fall would see a return to pre-COVID life, it appears we are not yet out of the woods. Flexibility will be your friend this fall as you plan to visit colleges and take any standardized tests. Be prepared for a tour or interview to switch from in-person to virtual. Some events might even be canceled. None of us really know how the pandemic will play out this year. We are here to support you and give you the information that you need. There may be moments of frustration, but remember that we are all in this together. Make the most of what is available to you; we know you will make good decisions and have terrific options for next year!
Join Us for a Summer College Workshop!
The College Counseling office hosts two workshops for seniors each summer. These are a great opportunity to kick-start the college application season. Counselors Mr. Brunk and Ms. Coughlin will walk you through preparing your Common Application and will help you map out an application process timeline. Pick one!
Thursday, August 19th 12:00-2:30pm
Monday, August 23rd 12:00-2:30pm
Meet us in Roche Lecture Hall and bring your charged device — you will use it to access the Common Application and Naviance Student pages. Light snacks will be provided.