As we head off into the summer, we asked our experts what rising seniors should be doing this summer. As usual, they've got some great advice about how to rest, recharge, and prepare for a couple of steps in the college application process so you'll hit the ground running -- and avoid feeling overwhelmed -- in the fall. And don't forget, two of the most important and best things you can do this summer are rest and read, read, read... Nothing will prepare you better for senior year. Enjoy all of it!
Mai Lien Nguyen
College and Career Center Coordinator
Mountain View High School
Mountain View, CA
“Having fun” and “preparing for college applications” aren’t phrases you normally hear in the same breath. But the summer before senior year could be the golden opportunity to make this happen. Let’s see how:
Many colleges require letters of recommendation from the people who know students best in an academic setting -- your high school counselor and teachers. Letters of recommendation from teachers tell admission officers how students contribute to the academic and intellectual life of their high school.
Now is the time to ask those teachers whom you would like to write for you, especially if you are enjoying a class and connecting with the teacher or planning to apply under an early program. You want to ask teachers who know you well and have taught you recently in a challenging class.
When you ask, keep in mind that writing letters of recommendation is not part of a teacher's normal job duties and you should approach your teachers with a polite considerate request. Here are some pointers:
* Ask in person. No emails. A personal request is most thoughtful. Here's a sound bite: "I'm thinking ahead to college applications and wonder if you feel writing a recommendation is something you can do for me."
We want to tell you a story. A story that we think gets to the heart of who most high school college counselors are -- at least the ones every parent wishes for their son or daughter. This is a story about Trevor Rusert and a student named Amanda.
Amanda lives with her father, a single parent. Her family is working class and Amanda had a significant scholarship to attend Sewickley Academy in Pennsylvania where Rusert is Director of College Guidance. But her scholarship didn't cover everything, so Amanda worked 30 hours a week at McDonald's as shift manager -- 6 p.m. to midnight, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and then full shifts on the weekend -- to make up the difference. In the summertime, she worked with Sewickley's maintenance crew during the day and was back at McDonald's at night -- 70-plus hours a week.
John Carpenter is back this month to commiserate with those students who are at heart procrastinators. In other words, those students who have not completed their applications yet. Read on to share the insights of a fellow travel in procrastination land and get inspired. Regardless of your disposition, the time is now!
It’s the holidays. You’re on break. Time to sleep in every single day if you want. And if you’re like many high school students, you still have some work to do on finishing college applications. I get it—I procrastinate, too, and it’s not as bad as everyone says it is. But there are some real advantages to getting things done early, and of course, those of you who are FINISHED and have submitted applications know this already. But this post is not for you.
For you, those who get everything done ahead of time, congratulations. We procrastinators wish we were more like you, but we’re not. We try. And sometimes we even get better, but the truth is that many of us will always put things off to the very end.
So, if you’re one of those finally getting around to getting your apps finished, good for you.
John Carpenter is the author of Going Geek: What Every Smart Kid (and Every Smart Parent) Should Know About College Admissions and a monthly guest blogger for us here at College Admission. Today, John looks at the balancing, juggling, ring of fire, joyous act that is senior year. Read on to learn how students can enjoy the beginning of senior year and, with a checklist in hand, seize the day.
Classes are going full steam ahead, you’re getting used to your new schedule, you’re discovering ideas and people you hadn’t noticed before--yep, you’re a senior. You’re in your last year of high school. Very cool.
If experience has taught me anything about these waning years of hands-on parenting it is that there is very much a time and a place for parents to help. The area where parents can do their kids the greatest service is in time management. Even the most mature teens would be hard pressed to recognize at the outset the huge demands on their time as the wind through the final years of high school. Our role, I believe is not to do things for them, but to help them envision the process, its demands and how they will squeeze it all into their busy lives.
Here are some suggestions to help them on their way:
1. Help your child plan out their academic life
Sit down with your 9th grader or 10th grader and their high school course catalogue and plan backward from 12th grade. Together, think about what they hope to accomplish academically over their high school years. Help them pick the most challenging classes they hope to take in the subject areas they enjoy. Have them look at the prerequisites for these classes and the paths they are going to take to reach their goals. Granted interests change and so do school schedules, but but kids with a plan have goals for themselves.
2. Ask your child to select one activity in which they will try to excel.
Many colleges require letters of recommendation from the people who know students best in an academic setting -- your high school counselor and teachers. Letters of recommendation from teachers tell admission officers how students contribute to the academic and intellectual life of their high school. Now is the time to ask those teachers whom you would like to write for you, especially if you are enjoying a class and connecting with the teacher or planning to apply under an early program. You want to ask teachers who know you well and have taught you recently in a challenging class. Many high schools have specific procedures for making requests -- including the earliest and latest dates you may make those requests. Find out your high school's policies and follow them.
For more information about letters of recommendation, including how to ask, what to provide teachers, counselor recommendations and more, see Chapter 12, “Recommendations” in College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step.
Our interview with NBC's Family Goes Strong columnist Karen Springen. We talk about application inflation, rankings, testing, gap years... Actually, we can't believe how much she covered here. Check it out.
Some of the girls we know are using a new "tool" to power through their college applications -- Written? Kitten! For every 100 words you write, you are rewarded with a new picture of -- you guessed it -- a kitten. As the creators describe it: "We like positive reinforcement, so we decided to make something a bit like writeordie but cuter and fuzzier." We are suckers for motivational tools and internet kittens. It's a win-win! Hat tip: Catherine and Amy Rosch, future members of the Class of 2016.