1. Organize yourself. Make a place where you will keep all of your college materials--this also means starting a folder in your email and desktop to keep all the information you’ve gathered. Begin writing all application deadlines on a calendar. Also, collect crucial information about you and your parents, including: social security #, address, parent’s occupation, standardized test scores and your transcript from high school—keep this information in your college folder.
2. Do something productive. While it is tempting to spend the entire summer beside the pool, get involved with something that you are passionate about. Volunteer at a local food pantry, job shadow someone who works in the career you are interested, secure a part time job, babysit, or create your own business.
3. Secure your teacher recommendation. If you haven’t already done so, ask a high school teacher that you feel knows your academic capabilities best to write a letter of recommendation for you.
4. Visit colleges that interest you. Call ahead for the campus tour/information session schedule. Schedule an on-campus interview with an admissions representative if they’re available. Take notes and ask questions while you’re on campus. Seeing what a college is really like will help you to make the decision of where you will apply in the fall. Look on faculty websites in your area of interest, student organizations, student newspaper.
5. Create an extracurricular resume. This should be a list of all activities that you have participated in since the 9th grade, including what you plan to do in your senior year. This can be involvement in student organizations, athletic teams, employment, community service and also any achievements. Record how long and how regularly you’ve been involved with each.
6. Begin brainstorming a topic for your main college essay. Go online to the college websites that you are planning to apply to and examine their essay prompts. If you’re unsure where you are applying, chances are one of the colleges on your list will accept the Common Application. Go online to commonapp.org and begin drafting your essay from the essay prompts available. Beginning to write early is crucial, as you will want time to edit and revise your essay. This is often your only chance to “talk” about yourself and strengths to an admissions officer.
7. Register for fall standardized tests. If you plan to take standardized tests (SAT I, SAT Subject Tests, ACT) in the fall, register early for these.
8. Register with the NCAA. If you plan on competing in Division I or Division II college sports and want to be eligible to be recruited by colleges, you must register with the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse.
9. Begin narrowing down your college list. Be sure your list includes "safety", as well as "target” and "reach" schools. A good rule of thumb is to have a list of 6-9 colleges, where 1-2 are considered “safety” schools, 3-4 “target”, and 2-3 “reach” schools.
10. Rest, relax and have fun! If you can commit to spend 30-45 minutes once or twice a week working on the above tasks, you will be ahead of the game in terms of the college application process. Give yourself time to hang out with friends, enjoy the nice weather and ready yourself for a successful senior year!