How to Prepare for College Applications Over the Summer

Monday, July 29, 2019

It's almost time for rising high school seniors to apply for college as the Common App opens up in a few days (August 1st!). The college applications process can be crazy and a tad bit stressful to so I wanted to share my tips on what y'all can do over the summer to make it a bit easier once school is in session!

finalize your list of schools

Before doing anything else, decide what schools you want to apply to! I had some schools that I liked but didn't think I would go to so I crossed those off the list as I knew I wouldn't go there in the end. I applied to 7 different colleges and it is helpful to break them up into backup (schools you will definitely get into), target (schools you should be able to get into), and reach (schools you may be able to get into).

fill out all the basic info on the common app

This part of the process isn't hard, just tedious. You have to fill out a lot of basic information about yourself and your family so I definitely recommend taking the time to sit down and fill this out.

make a list of deadlines

When you open up the Common App, it is definitely overwhelming seeing all the stuff you have to do, especially if you are applying to a lot of schools! I definitely recommend adding all of the deadlines to your agenda as well as making a checklist to get everything done before it is due!

write your first draft of your essays

Depending on what schools you apply to, you may have a lot of essays to write and trust me, it's easier to write them all over the summer rather than have to deal with them during the school year (while you have essays due for your classes). Writing your first draft now allows you to get the majority of it done now and then perfect them before turning it in.

find someone to look over your essays

Preferably someone who isn't one of your friends or a family member! Your college essays are a way for the schools to see what you are really like as well as what is important to you so you want to give a great impression from them. Having someone look over them is crucial and definitely do this early so they do not get caught up in other commitments and are too busy to help you out! I had my AP English teacher look over mine and it gave me the reassurance that they were my best work. Also it doesn't hurt to get this person a small thank you gift for helping you out!

meet with your college counselor to ask questions

As I filled out the Common App, I wrote down a long list of question to ask my college counselor and scheduled a meeting with her before school started. This helped me understand what else I needed to do and feel more confident going into the process.

schedule any tours

Whether you haven't visited a campus yet or want to see it again to have more clarity, scheduling a tour is the perfect way to know if you like a school. It helps to tour before applying so I recommend scheduling tours for days you have off of school or on the weekend!

ask for recommendations

The earlier you cross this off your list the better! I had two recommendations (one from my advisor and one from a teacher who knew me both from class and from a club I was heavily involved in) and asking before they get too busy is definitely helpful!

decide if you need to take any more tests + schedule them

You probably have taken the SAT or ACT (or both) already but if you haven't, you definitely want to go ahead and do that. I definitely recommend taking one more test as your scores are bound to go up as seniors know more than juniors but make sure the scores will be available before any application deadlines (so the October SAT is probably the last one you would want to take!).

Any other tips for applying to colleges? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I'm working on my common app essay right now. Its so crazy to think I'll know where I'm going to college in a few months.


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