For rising seniors, the thought of beginning the college application process during the summer seems unnecessary at best, and perhaps overwhelming. Rather than being a source of procrastination or stress, however, getting a head start on the application process can make for a much smoother and easier senior year, and will keep students from feeling rushed or overloaded. By tackling some manageable but key parts of the application process during their summer, rising seniors can enter their final year of high school farther along in the college application process. 

A good first step for starting this process over the summer is to begin writing drafts of the Common Application essay — the one essay most, if not all, of a student’s schools will receive. My students who finished this task in the summer all commented how happy they were that they wrote their essay before the demands of school set in. In conjunction with writing their Common App essay, students can use the summer to begin filling out the rest of the Common App. All six sections of the application are available: profile, family, education, testing, activities and writing. Please note that the following information will not rollover when the new, updated Common App becomes available in the fall: college-specific questions, the FERPA release, teacher/counselor recommendation invitations, and forms submitted by recommenders; please wait until the new application is out before completing those sections.   

By slowly and steadily getting a head start on the application process over the summer, soon-to-be college students are also getting some of their first experiences with self-directed planning and organizing—skills which will be essential once they graduate and head off to school.