Using Summer for Application Prep

Today is the first day of Summer 2011. Although most of you high school rising seniors have been out of school for a while now, enjoying “summer” a bit early, you’re no doubt thinking about what lies ahead a year from now, when your college plans will most likely be complete. I recall the summer before my senior year in high school. I worked two summer jobs. One was strictly grunt work, delivering samples of Cold Power laundry detergent door to door in various counties throughout the central region of my home state. The other was much more accommodating, taking care of a country club’s clay tennis courts. I not only got free court time in exchange for my labors but I also got to meet some of the club’s young-lady members, even doling out some free tennis lessons for them. It was tough work but somebody had to do it. 🙂

Back in those days, rising seniors didn’t give much thought to how or where they were going to apply to college. We just knew that we would more than likely go to college somewhere, but that would all take care of itself once school started in the fall. Not so today! These days, things have escalated to a fever pitch and some parents have even started college planning for their pre-school toddlers. The fever pitch has risen to a state of delirium.

Just when I was wondering what some high schoolers would be doing this summer in regards to their college plans, I got an interesting update from Kaplan Test Prep about a survey they recently undertook. It said that members of the class of 2012 are taking time this summer to become stronger and better informed applicants. Here’s more detail:

The survey showed that rising seniors are involved in the following types of activities this summer:

– Researching Colleges Online: 73% reported they will research colleges online during summer vacation, a convenient way to find and process much of the important information they will need about a school, from everything including how high they need to score on the SAT® or ACT®, to how strong the athletics program is.  Different students have different abilities, needs and interests.

– Campus Tours: To get the most realistic feel as possible, 71% plan to visit a college campus in person.  If an applicant is unable to personally visit, they should check if a virtual tour is available on the college’s official website or Facebook page.  According to Kaplan’s most recent survey of college admissions officers, 82% say they recruit students on Facebook, demonstrating that they view this median as a good way to communicate with prospective students.

– Experience: While not nearly as important as standardized test scores, an applicant’s extracurricular activities, work experience and personal biography play key roles in the admissions process.  With that in mind, 67% of students reported that they will volunteer over the summer and 63% said they planned to work.

– Summer Learning: To keep building their GPA and overall knowledge, 21% said they planned to take an enrichment course. This may also help them do well on AP exams senior year, which may in turn translate into college credit and shave off a semester’s worth of tuition.

– Feeling Confident: 86% of students expressed confidence that they’d get into their top college choices.  Students also feel positively about the admissions chances of their friends, with 88% saying they are confident they will get into their top college choices.

– A Successful Junior Year: 86% of students said they were satisfied with their academic performance this past school year; a nearly identical 84% said their parents were also satisfied.

– Catching Up on Some Good Books: 45% of students plan to read at least five books for pleasure over summer vacation, including 18% who plan to read more than 10.

Where do you fit in among these types of college application prep activities? For more information about the Kaplan survey, check here.

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Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.