I know that the thought of doing any type of Back to School post right now seems absolutely ridiculous given that this school year isn’t even over for most high schoolers yet, but in advising some of my friends who are current high school juniors on how to set themselves up for a smooth senior year, I realized this post needed to happen now because there’s so much you can do before this school year is even out to make your senior year so much less stressful. Today I’m sharing five ways to make your senior year easier, especially if you’re planning to go to college in following year. My hope is that these bits of my own experience will set you up not only for a year of success but also ample opportunities to actually soak in all of your lasts. Enjoy!
- Write your basic college application essay while you’re still in an academic mindset. – This time last year, right after my AP English Language & Composition exam, my AP English teacher told us that if we wanted to write our college application essay in response to the Common Application’s (you’ll see my refer to the Common Application as “Common App” throughout this post because that’s how most applying students refer to them, just a heads up) prompts then, she would review it for us and give us extra credit for it. Many of my peers passed on the opportunity because hey, it was the end of the year and we were done. My teacher made a good point that we wouldn’t want to write the essay over the summer and by the time August or September rolled around and we began applying to colleges, our writing abilities would have deteriorated a bit in comparison to what they were at the end of a year in AP English. I promise you that this fall every English teacher you’ve ever had will be flooded with college application essays to review as “favors” for past or current students, but if you write it now and have your current teacher proofread it for you he/she’ll be able to take more time looking at it and will recognize and respect your drive to get it done this early! Even if your teacher isn’t offering you extra credit to write the essay now, I can’t stress enough how nice it is to have this essay out of the way before the summer even begins. What a relief of stress! The prompts are here, if you’re interested. They’re keeping the prompts the same as last year and I think several of them were great options and allowed for a lot of flexibility for every individual with varying interests and strengths. I wrote for prompt #1, any guesses on what my special interest that my application would’ve been incomplete without?
- Start your Common App now. – After my English teacher opened up my mind to writing my Common App essay early, I realized I was also able to complete much of my actaul Common App on my own in May. I will say, there is a lot you might not know how to answer on your own without a parent, but there’s also a lot of basic information (i.e. all of your high school courses, your GPA, and your extracurriculars) that you’re completely capable of self-reporting in your abundant free time following AP exams. Getting as much as you can done now will deduct hours from the amount of time you spend on college applications in the late summer and fall.
- Brainstorm a list of colleges you’re remotely interested in. – I plan to do another post later on going in depth on how I’d recommend you go about formulating this list and narrowing down to a decision, but for now let me just say it’s really important for you to have some idea of where you want to go. Find schools that have programs for what you’re interested in, then think about whether you want to get out of state or stay in state (also consider which option is practical for you financially), go to a small school or big school, live in a big city or college town, etc. Just make a list! I promise it’s not that hard, the list can be as long or as short as you want it to be and you can narrow it down later.
- Start talking to your parents about touring colleges this summer. – I cannot stress this enough, you cannot pick a college without touring it. I was 100% set on a school for two entire years of high school, but after touring it I realized it just wasn’t for me. Then I toured my backup school and realized it was way too big, even though I thought I’d love a big school in a big city. Baylor wasn’t even a school I was genuinely interested in before I toured it, it was just on my list of possibilities, but as I was touring I realized it was my dream school. Talk to your parents about making trips to tour at least some of the schools you’re interested in this summer so you can avoid missing days of AP classes and stressing over whether or not your “dream school” is actually what you wanted when this fall rolls around.
- Curate your resume. – One optional thing that has the potential to really impress colleges is a resume. While the thought of creating your own resume as a high schooler might sound incredibly intimidating, I promise you it’s not as hard as it sounds, especially if you get started now with plenty of time to ask parents, college-aged friends, and other mentors for help. Here’s an example I found on Pinterest that’s super similar to the one I used as a model for mine last year!
Thanks for reading, I hope you found this advice helpful! I hope you have a great end to your junior year! I’m so excited for what the eventful year to come has in store for all of you rising seniors! Be on the lookout for more senior year and college decision advice posts to come!