While the mass exodus of international families from Beijing coupled with the high temperatures do mean summer is here, it does not mean there aren’t things you need to be doing. If you are intending to apply to school next year, especially college, you need to be doing a bunch of things to be ready for when school starts – not just what you have planned for the summer i.e. summer school, camp, or preparing for the SAT or an English exam (IELTS/TOEFL). You need to be actively doing things for your application.
The most important job you have is writing your Personal Statement and summer is a great time to do that. Get working on your personal statement for the US soon as both the Common Application and UC both have their essay questions available. By the time you return to school you should be 90 percent done with your Personal Statement; even better if you are completely finished. By the way, completely finished means you most likely have written multiple drafts and had a person other than your parents (ideally a college counselor) read over the essay and make suggestions.
August 1 is when the Common Application and the UC applications open to the class of 2016 so that is the next thing to get started on. Hopefully you have created things like a resume so you know what to put on the activities portion of the applications. At that time, you will be able to see what the supplement essay topics are for each individual school you are thinking of applying to. If your Personal Statement is 90-100 percent done, you get to start working on the loads of supplement essays you will need to complete.
An important point though; if you have not completed your college list, well, you won’t know what school to add to the Common Application and thus will not know what to look for regarding supplement essay questions and cannot get started. With this in mind, another important duty is to research schools and complete your list. By the time school starts in August, your university list should be about 90 percent set. The other 10 percent or so should be due to the fact that you are waiting for the October SAT results to confirm the list you have created. You may have to adjust your list up or down according to how you do in October. Note: Plan on the SATs in October to be delayed.Not that they will be, but students who were depending on October SATs last year were really caught off-guard when their scores were delayed.
Your final year in high school is a busy time. You have lots to do. Your primary job is school. Your part time job is applying to university. Plan ahead. Nothing should come in the way of applying to university. How you do in school is the most important factor. If you are getting everything done on your applications, you can then focus on getting fantastic grades.
My advice for this week: get organized, plan ahead, allocate time to research schools, and write those essays. Surprise your counselor when you come back from summer vacation. Not only will you be ahead of the game, but you won’t have the nagging feeling that you are not getting anything done. Be aware that researching schools effectively takes time. As I tell my students, the Application Train (A-Train) has left the station. Are you on the train or are you watching it leave?
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