8 Strategies for Juniors to Improve College Chances This Summer

Attention, high school juniors: keep the momentum going this summer. You’ve made it this far, and now is not the time to lose steam. Use your time wisely to get ahead. What you do this summer could be the factor that pushes your application from a no or maybe to a yes. Here’s your college to do list for the summer.

1. Draft your college essay. By starting your college essay over the summer, you will give yourself more time to refine your writing and craft a great story that admission counselors want to read. All juniors should definitely be at least considering their college essay over the summer. A question to consider before writing is, “What do I want colleges to know about me that they might not otherwise glean from my application?” Need help getting the essay started or want feedback on what you have written? Contact us at International College Counselors, and we will connect you with an essay expert.

2. Apply for scholarships. There are a myriad of scholarships available to high school juniors. In fact, there are websites dedicated entirely to assisting students with their scholarship search. To start, try www.fastweb.com, www.scholarships.com, and www.raise.me. Students can get scholarships for more than high GPAs or athletic ability; there are scholarships that reward students for things like their ethnic background, interests, height, musical ability, ability to write an essay, and more.

3. Makeover your college list. Aim to identify around ten colleges that offer what you are looking for. Questions to help you narrow down your college list include: “Where do I want to live?” “Do I want a large or small school, and why?” What do I want to study?” When determining which schools to add to or subtract from your list, make sure you consider the college’s acceptance rate, and compare the average GPA and test scores of the school with your grades and test scores. A well-balanced list should include just one or two schools that are a “reach,” two to four schools that are a “match,” and four to six schools where you are slightly above the average.

4. Find a summer job or volunteer in your community. If you have the time, apply for a summer job or volunteer work as juniors if not sooner, as both may positively impact your college application. They both demonstrate initiative and drive. Furthermore, a summer job or volunteer position may expose you to a potential career path or help you determine what your major will be.

5. Plan some campus visits. On many campuses, college tours are back up and running. If you can make it to campus as juniors, an in-person tour will give you firsthand insight into a school, making it easier to narrow down your school list. Plan ahead–be sure to check the school’s website for information about campus visits. A reservation is often required to attend an information session and campus tour. If visiting in person is not possible, be sure to attend virtual tours and information sessions to learn more and to demonstrate interest.

6. Take (or re-take) the SAT/ACT. As you refine your school list and start to get into the nitty-gritty numbers of college admissions, you may decide to take or retake SAT or ACT. Though many schools remain test-optional, some (like all of the Florida public universities and MIT) still require students to submit standardized test scores. Even if a college is test-optional, a strong score can boost your chances of admission. To prepare for the ACT and SAT, practice, practice, practice! Consider working with a tutor, taking a prep course, or utilizing the free practice materials online at www.khanacademy.org or www.act.org/academy.

7. Start your college applications. While the Common Application does not officially open for the Class of 2023 until August 1, high school juniors who will be seniors in fall 2022 can create an account now, as long as they do not add any schools to the account. Get ahead by gathering the information you need and filling out the Profile, Family, Education, and Activities sections. Note that “current year courses” means “senior year courses.”

8. Don’t hesitate to get expert help. Boston Tutoring Services provides tutoring for college admissions. Your admission consultant will help and support you and your child through the college admission process. From developing and finalizing a list of schools to which the student will apply, to perfecting their applications and essay, your admission consultant will guide you every step of the way.

Allison Green
Boston Tutoring Services

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