Rising Seniors, does choosing the right college feel like a race?

If this is the last summer before entering your Senior year of high school, you are a Rising Senior. Congratulations, most likely you have completed 75% of your academic coursework and are well on your way in the college selection process! If choosing the right college sometimes feels like a marathon, you are reaching Mile 19 in a 26 mile race. The trick in a marathon, especially in the last 6-7 miles, is to keep putting one foot in front of the other!

Senior year is really an exciting time. But don't get too caught up in the hoopla that you forget to "keep moving forward." Here are a few things you can do this summer to lighten your TO-DO list for when you return to school and activities this fall, and to make sure you reach the finish line!

1. Assess your academic progress. Evaluate your transcripts, course selection for Senior year, and test scores. Honestly assess whether these objective documents reflect your true abilities. If there are areas that call for improvement, now is the time to take action. Perhaps you need one last chance at the SAT or maybe you need to strengthen your first semester schedule by replacing that cooking class with Trigonometry. You have worked diligently for three years, but you don't want it to go down the tubes now. Maintain high academic standards until the end and trust me, people will notice!

2. The College List. Most likely, you have been researching and visiting colleges throughout your junior year. Don't worry, there is still time for more visits, and even a second visit to those that you need a thorough look at. However, it is time to forge your actual college list and begin your applications. There are varying recommendations, but your list of colleges may have five to ten or even twelve schools on it. You may end up applying to the top five, ten or more on the list. Remember that the College List is a living document; add and subtract from it, not daily, but intentionally and thoughtfully throughout the months of your college search.

3. Update your High School Resume. Write down all sports, school activities and church and community involvement. This includes employment as well as special one-time events such as Mission Trips or special projects that you work on. Include as many specifics as possible: months and years of participation; description of events; awards and special honors. You will use this information on your college applications, as well as scholarship applications. You are logging your high school events into a summary, so the content is very important in assessing how you spent your time and energy over the course of four years. Looking at your High School Resume and all that is encompasses may trigger ideas for writing your college application essays!

4. Begin filling out applications and drafting college essays. While sitting at the kitchen table or curled up on the couch with your laptop seems like the last place you want to be when it is 80 degrees and sunny, if you take the time to do this now, you will be so thankful you were disciplined enough to do so! When September and October rolls around and you are swimming in AP coursework and extra-curricular activities, you will be several steps ahead of the game if you have a good start on your applications and have drafts of several essays hammered out.

As you come into this final stretch of the race, it is important for Rising Seniors to enjoy those final miles and cross the finish line with a smile and arms raised overhead. You won't enjoy it if it is a mad dash of late nights because you have put things aside or procrastinated. Take advantage of the down-time of summer and assess your progress of Numbers 1-4 and plan your work in July and August accordingly. Good luck!

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