As busy as summer vacation can sometimes be, it behooves rising seniors to knock out some college planning to-do's before the pressure of school sets in again. Here's a handy list for reference!
LCC's Rising Senior Checklist
(Notes specific to class of 2019 included after each item, if needed.)
- Course selections. Make sure that your course load for senior year is one that will push you but not shove you. Note that even moderately selective schools like to see FIVE core classes every year (English, math, natural science, social science, and foreign language).
- Standardized testing. Compare your current scores to the accepted score ranges for schools of interest and for scholarship programs. Are you at least in the top half of the score range for all schools and programs? Then you can probably stop testing. Have you already taken plenty of tests and done test prep to the best of your ability? Then you can probably stop testing. Otherwise, summer is a great time to prep prior to the July ACT and August SAT!
Class of 2019:
--Upcoming test dates are the July 14 ACT, August 25 SAT, September 8 ACT, and October 6 SAT, all of which should be accepted dates for early admissions plans. Regular and rolling admissions plans will accept test dates even further into senior year.
--Note also (and here we get into the weeds...but they are potentially important weeds) that the SAT & ACT just released a revised concordance to translate between scores, which has caused some shifting in score equivalencies from the old concordance and could affect score cut-offs for certain scholarships (dependent upon each school's decision for which concordance to use, old or new). Auburn University, for example, might update its concordance used for scholarships to reflect the new, official concordance from the SAT and ACT...or they might not. Students who think they're done testing and who are relying on the old concordance should call their schools to verify which concordance will be used to make sure they don't need to retest based on the new concordance.
- Resume. Now is a good time to comb back through the family calendars for the past three years and record all activities, awards, work, volunteering, and travel...if you haven't already done this! Start broadly, writing down anything at all that is outside of your seven hours spent in the classroom during the school year. Once you have your list, organize it into a clean resume for easy reference during application time and for uploading to applications where that option exists. The resume should fit on one page unless you have to explain what your patented invention does or give an abstract from the research that earned you an international science award. Otherwise, edit, people.
- College list. Do what you need to do here to make sure you have a balanced college list in terms of academic, social, and financial fit. While summer isn't the best time to see colleges "live" with students in action, it's typically easier to travel in the summer, so line up campus visits for places you're still not sure about applying to. Register with admissions offices for each visit and take notes right after the visit ends. Once your list of schools is finalized, choose the admissions plan (early action, early decision, regular decision, etc.) that is right for you and understand all deadlines.
- Writing. Hundreds of schools on the Common Application will require a long personal statement. Knocking out this personal statement before senior year starts is wise.
Class of 2019:
--The Common App essay prompts will remain the same as last year, including the catch-all prompt #7, so you can really write about anything.
--Many schools (like UGA, for example) will also publish their supplemental essay prompts prior to the applications going live in August or September, so you can also get started on these shorter essays before the bustle of senior year kicks in.
- Scholarships. While there are national scholarships anyone find and apply for online, the best ROI for your scholarship search lies in local and institutional scholarships. Think about local community organizations that might give out scholarships (Rotary Clubs, Ruritan Clubs, etc.) or professional organizations your parents might be part of that give out scholarships for members' children. Talk to your school counselor to see if there are any nominated scholarships you might be a good fit for. If merit scholarships are an important factor in where you will end up, make sure that schools on your list have a history of openhandedness and that your academic profile or unique skills will likely be recognized with a merit award.
- Your high school's college counseling procedures. Does your school use Naviance? How and when should you request letters of recommendation or transcripts? If your school has a college counseling website, read through it this summer to understand the resources available to you and the processes already set up that you should follow.
- Recommenders. In addition to your school's counselor, who will be the default recommender on most applications, other recommenders are also sometimes required or encouraged. Start thinking about which teacher(s)--usually no more than 2--you'd like to ask for a recommendation. When school starts, you can informally ask the teacher if he or she would be willing to write a letter for you; you're more likely to get a happy "Yes!" than a stressed "Sure" if you ask early.
...And of course, if you're looking for summer college planning support, contact us! Enjoy your final summer as a high school student!