Is your junior on track with their college applications?
Many juniors are already well into their college admissions journeys, while others are just getting started. If your student is in the latter group, there’s no reason to panic.
Summer is right around the corner, and it’s the perfect time for students to get on track with college applications so that they can maintain a steady pace and complete all critical tasks in a timely manner.
College Application Checklist: Summer before Senior Year
If you’re looking for a comprehensive college admissions timeline, direct your attention here. Today, we’ll focus on the tasks students should aim to complete from early spring of junior year to early fall of senior year—or, more easily, summer.
1. Research colleges and make a college list
Building a college list helps students identify schools they believe are a good fit for them. Our Personal College Inventory is a great starting point to get students thinking about different aspects of individual colleges and weighing them against each other.
Next, gather and review GPA and SAT/ACT scores and use tools like Naviance or SCOIR and a GPA vs. SAT/ACT score chart to determine the level of selectivity for each school. Students should ultimately narrow their list to 2-3 safety schools, 3-4 target schools, and 2-3 reach schools.
2. Decide on application time frames
Does your student plan to apply Early Action (i.e., non-binding application), Early Decision (i.e., binding application), or Regular Decision?
Applying early requires a student to accelerate the college admissions process and finalize their application by early November.
When does it make sense for a student to apply early? We generally advise students to apply Early Action or Early Decision if they are 100% certain they want to attend a certain school; otherwise, Regular Decision is likely the best course of action.
3. Retake the SAT or ACT if necessary
Most students will have already taken the SAT or ACT once or twice by the summer before senior year. If a student isn’t happy with their score, they still have time to retake the exam over the summer and stay on track with college applications.
With the right preparation, students can raise their scores considerably. Signet’s dedicated test prep tutors can help students earn high score gains to meet their target score.
4. Request and confirm recommendations
College recommendations are an essential part of a student’s college admissions package, and summer is a great time to get them in order.
Generally, recommendations are written by teachers or counselors. However, students may choose to provide an additional recommendation from an adult in their life who can offer a fresh perspective on them.
5. Brainstorm, draft, and refine their personal essay
The college essay (or personal statement) is a student’s chance to demonstrate their individuality, interests, and values while showing that they can communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively.
In our Guide to the College Essay, we outline a 5-step process to help students write a great personal statement. We recommend reading this guide and following our approach, with the goal of finalizing the essay by the end of the summer.
The college admissions process is daunting, but staying on track can help make it feel less overwhelming. Even with these critical college application tasks on their plate, upcoming seniors should still have plenty of time to pursue other meaningful activities over the summer—including those that allow them to truly enjoy their time being kids.
Check out Signet’s Guide to College Admissions for more on the college admissions process.