Summer is finally here! So it’s time to kick back, relax and enjoy the sunshine, right? Well, unfortunately that’s not the case for upcoming seniors, such as myself, who are working on getting into the college of their dreams.
With summer immersion programs, searching for scholarships, working on college essays, and studying for the SAT/ACT, this summer is turning into a stressful one. But, there is hope. You can take steps to make your summer a little less miserable if you start get organized right now.
First, the best way to stay on track with all upcoming deadlines is to make a list. It should include application deadlines for the colleges you want to attend. This is extremely important as you need to know how much time you have to complete everything that is required for your application. You should also add your SAT/ACT test dates to your list. Making a list helps you feel less flustered and makes the process less hectic.
Another helpful tip is to start working on your resume as soon as possible. Colleges want to see everything that you have done since freshman year. The best advice I can give is, as soon as you participate in something memorable (such as a volunteer project), write it down on your resume so you don’t forget.
If you are still unsure about what college you want to attend, it’s not too late. There is a website called Naviance that most high schools offer which helps match you with colleges that meet your criteria. For example, all you have to do is input your scores, your major and what you are looking for in a college — such as Greek life, the size of the school, or location — and Naviance matches you with colleges that fit your profile. It’s worth the time… what the website comes up with may surprise you. In my case, some universities popped up that I hadn’t even heard of, and, once I checked them out, a few of those were added to my list.
Planning a tour of prospective colleges is another way to help narrow down a list of schools. Obviously, the sooner you plan a visit, the better as some colleges begin accepting applications as early as October. By visiting different campuses, you can get an idea if it’s the right fit for you. Another thing to prepare for are the interviews. Many competitive universities, such as Wake Forest in North Carolina, highly recommend interviews. Several offer Skype interviews if you can’t make it up there in person. Either way, going on the college website is highly recommended to look into what you need to do so you don’t miss any deadlines.
Let’s not forget a very important part of the college search. How are you going to pay for it? Well, many students may have Florida Prepaid or a 529 account, which your parents have set up for you long ago. Needless to say, college is expensive. When you add dorms, food and all the other essentials for living away from home, you might find yourself wondering where you will get the extra money to cover those expenses. That’s where scholarships come in. There is a plethora of scholarship money out there, all you have to do is look for it. Many ask for an essay, or to be nominated by your school in order to apply. Now is the time to get those recommendations from your teachers, and spend a little of your summer sun time, inside, writing those essays and applying for every scholarship you can find on the web. If you play sports, there are several grants you can apply for such as the U.S. Army/Pro Football Hall of Fame Award for Excellence which offers a $2,500 grant for those students who are chosen based on athletics, academics and community service. Another is the Wendy’s High School Heisman scholarship which honors students who excel in sports and are leaders in their communities. All you need to do is look for these grants and scholarships on the internet and apply.
So, put away the sunscreen and turn on your laptop because while your friends will be scrambling to finish their essays and applications this fall, you can take a deep breath because you sacrificed a few weeks of summer fun for a bright future.