Spring is when high school sophomores need to get serious about college planning. That’s because you’re nearly halfway through your high school years. From now on, the way you spend your time will have a big impact on the college application process.
Be sure to plan an interesting, fun and productive summer. First, because you deserve it. Second, because colleges will want to know that you’ve been putting your time to good use year-round. You may decide to get a summer job to earn money, do an internship to check-out career options or take a class in a subject you’ve always been curious about.
Whatever you do, make it a learning experience, something that will help you find out more about the wide world out there. In the process, you may well learn something new about yourself. For more tips, read How to Plan Your Summer.
If you’re a high school junior, it’s time to think about your college essay. That’s because you want your essay to be great—and great essays aren’t written in a day. Or even a week. They take introspection and planning. The summer before senior year is the best time to do the actual writing. Plan to complete it before September, since you’ll be very busy during senior year. So it’s smart to block out your writing time now, as part of your summer planning.
1. Allow plenty of time. To write a good essay, you’ll need to do multiple drafts. It’s important to allow time to think things through carefully and make sure you’re on the right track. You’ll probably make several false starts. That’s normal. It’s also why you should budget enough time to scratch things out and start over, in case you need to. Remember you’ll need to work your essay through several stages: from developing the idea and sketching it out, to executing it as a polished piece of writing. Figure you’ll need at least several hours of uninterrupted time, a few days in a row, to get started. Of course, you’ll need more time to get through all the necessary revisions and editing.
Happy April! If you’ve had good luck with your college applications, now the choice is up to you. You may have several good options. Which one should you accept? This is a big decision—one that will shape the next four years of your life. So it’s not surprising if you feel a bit daunted, even dizzy.
But rest assured this doesn’t have to be a game of blind man’s bluff. Focus on the basic issues, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Here are some tips to help you organize your thinking and reach the decision that’s right for you.
1. Don’t be swayed by the status of a college. Instead, carefully consider the educational experience it offers. Look closely at the academic departments, especially the one where you are likely to major. Make sure it has the faculty and courses that will be challenging and exciting for you.