For the majority of incoming Chicago area high school seniors, the school year starts in just under three weeks. Once school starts, homework, jobs, college applications and visits, homecoming, ACT’s & SAT’s and other activities will take up much of their free time.
Luckily, there are things incoming seniors can do while summer vacation winds down that can help them boost their college applications. Here are five:
- Visit the library. All Illinois seniors are required to take the ACT®. Get a jump on the test by checking out college preparation books and software from your local neighborhoodlibrary. If you were planning on studying just prior to the exam, change your plans. You’ll likely be way too busy to study properly. Also, the knowledge you gain now can be put to immediate use once classes resume.
- Get a job. As college students head back to their campuses in late August, they leave behind a bunch of jobs they held this
summer leaving business owners in a bind and desperate to hire replacements quickly. Not only will a new job add some much needed money to your wallet, it’ll also give you a wide range of bullets you can add tothe Extra-Curricular/Work Experience portion of your college application.
- Research Scholarships. Almost all private scholarships for the 2011-12 school year have already been awarded and the application procedures for the upcoming scholarship application period are not yet available online just yet. Fortunately, most private scholarship organizations utilize the same criteria every year to award their respective scholarships. When I worked in admissions, the number one reason students were disqualified from being considered for a scholarship was incomplete applications. These applications were incomplete likely due to time constraints and bad planning on the part of the student. Read up on last year’s scholarship criteria and start writing essays or otherwise completing the requirements for the upcoming year’s scholarship application. By researching and preparing in the summertime, you’re allowing yourself time in the fall to focus on other things.
- Volunteer. Many high schools now require students to complete a certain amount of volunteer hours in order to graduate while colleges now utilize volunteer activities as part of their admissions criteria. Beyond the thought of knowing that you can be a positive influence in your community through volunteerism, another benefit to volunteering in the summer is that the weather is great and there are many outdoor volunteer opportunities in Chicago. For ultimate fun in the sun volunteer opportunities, check with your local summer camps, park districts or animal shelters.
- Register. Most of the local city colleges allow high school juniors and seniors to take college classes during the regular
school year. Adding that you’re already taking college classes on your college application is something that will impress the college admissions officers. Further benefits of registering for college while in high school is that you may be able to get dual credit for one course and that you’ll save money and time when compared to starting classes after one graduates
from high school.
The list above is by no means exhaustive and how much one can boost a college application is only limited by one’s imagination. Anything you do now will allow you more time down the line to work on other equally important things. It is important to point out though that since senior year is so full of stress, just relaxing on a hammock for the next three weeks can just as easily be a boost as young teens need their rest.
What have you done this summer to help you prepare for the college application process? Please share your thoughts with other students and parents by commenting on this article.