This time every year I like to offer some specific tips to high school juniors as we approach the end of the school year. These are steps students should take that will pay off during college application season next fall:
1) Get one or two teachers who know you well to agree (now) that they will prepare a recommendation for you in the fall—don’t wait!
2) Make sure that your senior year schedule is as challenging as you can handle. That could mean honors or AP classes, a fourth year of foreign language or just avoiding a tendency to pick an elective over a core subject like math or science.
3) Plan to have a very constructive summer, one that you could speak passionately about in an interview. It doesn’t have to be an on-campus, pre-college program, although you are likely to find some good ones where you can pursue an interest or talent. How about testing a career possibility by shadowing someone who works in that field? Consider volunteering for a local community service organization. Even better, initiate a service project that responds to an issue that you care about or takes advantage of your skills. Need ideas—take a look here:
4) Speaking of summer, I recommend to each of my clients that we brainstorm essay topics and establish a goal of completing a good draft of the common app personal statement before school starts up in September.