Build your foundation list. You may have created a foundation list of schools at this point. The list may include 2–4 double reach or dream schools, 2–4 target schools, and 1–2 sure-thing/safety schools of which one should be a “financial safety.”
Start your campus visits. Devise a schedule to visit the campuses for the summer and fall. Remember, visiting the college during the summer will feel different than visiting during the fall when all the students are back from summer break. If you can’t visit, take a virtual tour on http://www.youvisit.com/ or attend an online college fair through http://www.collegeweeklive.com/.
Build your resume! Have you finished your resume of activities? This resume may come in handy for interviews, scholarship applications, college applications and letters of recommendation. Include leadership in activities, summer jobs, community service, as well as awards and honors. Check out Microsoft’s free resume templates at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/CT010104337.aspx.
Ready for an interview? Practice your interview skills with friends and family, research the program, practice questions, dress for success, bring a pad for notes, get directions, turn your cell phone off and smile! For more suggestions check out Acting for Business – http://www.actingforbusiness.com.
Identify and explore your passions. It will likely lead to exciting and fulfilling experiences that might help you discover what you want to study in college. Think outside the box and consider the resources around you and how you might take advantage of some free time. Gain experience, build character and maturity, and take away an experience you may want to articulate on your college application essay. If you’re passionate about medicine, then volunteer at a hospital to see if this interest is well founded. Likewise, if teaching is a possibility in your future, become a camp counselor or volunteer at a local day care or summer school.
Think about your college essay. Now is an excellent opportunity to begin work on your personal statement. You will want to start this process now since you will have more time, feel less pressure, and have time to fine tune it before your start your senior year coursework. Check out some excellent tips here — http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/642/01/.
Prepare if you are a student-athlete. If you hope to compete in athletics at the college level (Division I, II or III), then plan to attend at least one showcase event or a summer sports camp. Not only will you develop as an athlete, but you are also likely to gain exposure to college coaches. Many camps are held on college campuses, which will give you the opportunity to experience college life firsthand.
If you plan to play sports at the most competitive levels, be sure to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center – http://www.ncaaeligibilitycenter.org. Consider listing your accomplishments and statistics in an athletic resume that you can give to coaches and submit with your college application. Student athletes should also have a highlights video. Finally, visit the athletic Web sites for colleges and fill out the perspective student athlete forms.
Know the details if you are a performing or fine arts student. As with student athletes, those who are interested in the performing or fine arts should use the summer to work on a portfolio or audition piece in the event that it is required for a college application. Some colleges have very detailed instructions about what they expect, so it’s best to start preparing those applications now so you won’t be overwhelmed in the fall. Look into attending a local portfolio day (http://portfolioday.net) so that you can have your work reviewed to improve your presentation. Check out this blog for auditioning tips — http://www.auditioningforcollege.com/.
Do you need letters of recommendations? Check the requirements of the schools on your foundation list. If you did not already ask one or two teachers in core subject areas if they would be willing to write you a strong letter of recommendation, you may want to send them an email once you review once you have reviewed the colleges you plan on applying to. The sooner the better as many teachers will want to plan for summer and preparation for fall classes. The teachers may get more requests than they can handle, so you all want to think ahead.
Now is time for test prep practice. Use the next few months to prep for standardized tests such as the SAT, SAT Subject Tests on http://www.collegeboard.com and the ACT with Writing on http://www.act.org. Review and select fall test dates. Remember, if you are applying early action or early decision you’ll need to submit test results from September and October test dates. Check out free online test preparation like http://www.number2.com or http://www.ineedapencil.com, purchasing a book, taking a structured class or working one-on-one with a tutor. Learn which schools are test optional on http://www.fairtest.org.