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Articles / Applying to College / Your Rising-Senior Summer: Taking Stock

July 22, 2014

Your Rising-Senior Summer: Taking Stock

August is on the horizon and will soon be here. All you rising high school seniors know what that means: school looms. Many of you have been actively involved in the college process already, having worked with your counselors to craft a meaningful and challenging course schedule. Your planning may have begun as far back as junior high school.

Most of you who are planning applications to competitive colleges, or even so-called “elite" colleges, no doubt began your planning in 9th grade, the beginning of your high school career. Your planning may have already included college visits and detailed research regarding finding the best match between your needs and colleges' abilities to meet them. I've written at length here and on College Confidential about the preparation cycle, those actions that well-prepared applicants should take to make their college decisions count.

Speaking of preparatory actions, one of the best actions rising seniors can take, as you head toward the end of summer and the start of senior year, is to take inventory of where you are and where you've been with your overall academic and extracurricular profile. So, what I'd like to present today is a kind of “roundup" form into which you can put all the important data that comprises who you are as a potential college applicant.


The purpose of this End of Summer Inventory (pioneered by College Confidential's Sally Rubenstone) is to give you a comprehensive overview, on one page, of what you have accomplished so far in your high school career. It also serves the dual role of showing you what you haven't done and likely will need to do early on in your senior year.

So, if you're motivated to take my advice and assess your accomplishments to date, copy the following form and paste it into a Word document. Once you have done that, you can begin to compile your data.

After you've finished entering all your information and double-checked it for accuracy, you may want to print out the finished form and give it to your school's college counselor for his/her information. Granted, your counselor has access to all this information, but it is not likely available in such a convenient, concise format. This will also exhibit your proactive attitude toward your college goals. That may endear you to your counselor who, as you may recall, will be responsible for providing your school's “flagship" recommendation for all your college applications. That certainly can't hurt.

So, here's the form. Consider its advantages and fill it out as completely as possible.

End-of-Summer Inventory

Name:

Junior Grades: (List each class and the grade you received. Be sure to indicate if the class was AP, honors, etc. If you don't have the exact grade, just estimate.)

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Senior Classes:

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Class rank: (This is your newest rank from the end of junior year, if you have it. If you only have your OLD rank, leave this blank.)

AP Exam results: (If you took any tests, list name of test and score.)

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2.

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Best SAT I scores: (List your best Critical Reading score and your best Math and Writing scores, even if they came from different test dates. DO NOT COUNT PSAT SCORES OR PRACTICE TESTS.)

Critical Reading:

Math:

Writing:

Subject Test Scores:

Subject: _____________ Score _________ Grade you were in when test was taken ________

Subject: _____________ Score _________ Grade you were in when test was taken ________

Subject: _____________ Score _________ Grade you were in when test was taken ________

Subject: _____________ Score _________ Grade you were in when test was taken ________

Best ACT Composite: (If you took this test.)

Testing plans for the fall: (SATs, Subject Tests or ACTs you expect to take and when.)

If you had to pick the one college you most want to attend today, which would it be? (Don't worry if you think it's a “reach" school that you won't get into. Be brave and say it anyway!)

What other colleges are you most interested in right now?

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Are you planning to apply to any colleges via an Early Action or Early Decision plan? If so, which one(s)? (Warning: Before answering, make sure that the colleges you list actually offer the options you expect to use. If you're planning on applying to more than one college in the Early round, read instructions carefully to confirm that you're not restricted from doing so. )

Did you visit any colleges over the summer? If so, which ones and what did you think of them?

Name at least three colleges you have “investigated" either via campus visits, Web sites, guidebooks, etc.) and are sure you do NOT want to attend):

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Have any of your general college preferences changed over the summer? (Location, size, possible majors, willingness to attend a women's school, etc.)

List at least five things you did this summer. (Your list should include the most time-consuming and worthwhile activities you undertook (e.g., “Volunteered at a hospital" or “Worked 20 hours/week at a supermarket") along with any other pursuits that were especially enjoyable or memorable, however decadent or insignificant you think they may seem to anyone besides you (e.g., “Became addicted to Teen Wolf or “Finally got my room cleaned up" or “Made great strides in my relationship with my younger sister.")

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I hope that this highly organized accounting of your accomplishments will help you, your counselor, parents, or any other interested party to see where you stand, here on the eve of your senior year. Pulling all this information together onto one page is a great way to start school this year on the right foot.

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Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles on College Confidential.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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