Summer is such an exciting time that the last thing on students’ minds is the the college application. And who would blame them? There are academic programs they’re attending, internships or summer camps engaging them, not to mention friends and the freedom from the day-to-day school push. I too have stopped short on my own inspiration. Summer is fun!
But the reality is that because there is more time, summer can also be a great time to maintain focus on the important aspects of the college/boarding school admission process. While it may be the last thing on students’ minds, it should plague their conscience. Spending time to research schools, collecting and organizing items for the resume, and putting words down to complete the essays are hard work, but so necessary.
The most important factor is time management and organization. For effective time management, make sure you schedule time each day to do something college/boarding school application related. Whether it’s researching schools, sending emails to admissions representatives, or jotting down ideas for the essays, do something. It’s not only about allocating time, it is about actually doing something. Using your calendar application on your computer to set 30 minutes to an hour each day will help immensely. Remember to be realistic though, if the summer program is time consuming, don’t over book yourself. The important thing not to do is say, “well, I will do this tomorrow.” There are a lot of tomorrows and the next thing you know, you have none left and summer is over. So, schedule time!
Organization is also obviously important. Make a plan about how you will use the time you have just scheduled. Maybe one day is allocated to researching schools, the next is working on your resume, and the next is essay brainstorming/writing and so on. As you attack each task, you will, one hopes, start gaining moment and you will be able to check off these items as done. One thing that is important to keep in mind as you move along is this: the idea is not to get then just done. You want to put quality work into what you are doing. It makes no sense just to do them to get them over with but to really dedicate time and focus to really get them done. Of course, you can come back later to review them and you should. But like anything worthy, you have to put in the time, energy, and focus.
I was speaking with a college representative yesterday on the plane to Chicago. I asked her about college essays and what she thought about them. Her first complaint was that it was obvious when a student had waited until the last minute. Her second complaint was that students spend too much time trying to write what they think admission officers want to hear rather than bringing individual, personal perspective to the essays. Next came the ubiquitous complaint about using “impressive” words rather than using genuine wording the student would normally use.
I know that I have covered these items before but they are worth repeating. It is impossible to try to figure out what an admission committee wants to hear. So here is a clue – they want to hear your personal perspective, in your tone and language. Hence, the name, personal statement. Write about you using factual experiences to drive your essays and your resume.
My final comment is this – have fun with your essay. Of course it is drudgery if you are trying to be someone else as you approach this task. Be true to yourself is a motto I completely appreciate and, in this case, fits the bill. If you are true to yourself and focus your energy on the tasks at hand, you are going to feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment. So, get scheduling, get writing, and get researching.
Hamilton Gregg is the founder of International Educational Consulting and has worked in education since 1985. He helps students and their families understand their personal and educational needs and find the right school to meet their requirements. If you are a student or parent who would like to ask Gregg a question on our blog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org