5 Action Items For High School Seniors Applying to College Early Action
Top 5 Actions High School Seniors CAN and NEED to do NOW to Successfully Prepare for Early Action College Application Deadlines
In any given year, the college admissions process can be overwhelming. This year has been particularly brutal for high school seniors. Over the last six months, they have had limited access to their Guidance Counselors, a lack of opportunity to take college tours, limited internship openings, and few, if any, occasions in which to demonstrate mastery on the SAT or ACT (no test = no scores).
Unfortunately, no one can control the fallout from COVID-19. BUT, here are 5 key actions high school students can take to successfully control the outcome of their application process.
1. Create a Student Resume
A student resume will help you when you fill out the activities section of your Common Application. It is also an excellent way to keep your achievements, extracurriculars, community service, work, and leadership experience all in one spot. Students can also upload the resume for admissions officers to review before college interviews and attach it to their Common Application as supporting documentation.
Need help drafting your student resume? Click below:
2. Draft your Personal Essay
The personal essay is the only opportunity for college-bound teens to reveal who they are in their own voice – beyond the data – as a person with a voice, rather than just a test score and a GPA. Drafting your essay takes time and reflection. Written well, the personal essay will set you apart from other students with the same GPA, SAT score, and extracurricular activities.
Need help crafting your personal essay? Click below:
- How to Start a Personal Essay
- Personal Essay Sample Structure
- Annotated Example of Personal Essay Structure
3. Narrow Down Your College List
As you research and learn more about the colleges on your list, identify a few characteristics — financial and non-financial — that are most important to you. Eliminate schools that do not meet these criteria. Ideally, you will want to narrow down your list to approximately eight to ten colleges.
Need help researching and narrowing down your college list? Click below:
- Top Research Materials
- Academic Fit Building A College List
- Financial Fit Building A College List
- Social Fit Building A College List
- Important Questions to Ask on Your College Visit
4. Prepare Teacher Recommendation Letters
Email your “teachers of choice” and politely ask them if they will write your recommendation letter. In your email, or in a follow-up note, share with them why you chose them. The Key is including information that will both jog their memory about you as well as provide them with some points they can use to write about you. In other words, politely share with them what you’d like them to consider including in his or her letter. Some potential reasons you may have chosen your teacher include:
What I learned in your class.
How you (teacher) contributed to my learning in a meaningful way.
How you (student) contributed to the class. (Leadership is always a plus.)
How you feel this learning will impact your future or how it has already impacted you.
5. Study for the Fall SAT or ACT
While there are many schools that are now test-optional (meaning they do not require a standardized test for admissions), for students who have been preparing for an exam since January 2020, keep the momentum going just a little bit longer.
Need Foundational Concepts and Test Prep Strategies? Click Below:
IMPORTANT TIP: According to experts at NACAC (National Association for College Admissions Counseling) and the IECA (Independent Education Consulting Association), “In the absence of test scores and a semester or two of grades (since many schools went P/F), students’ recommendations, resumes, and essays will become much more valuable.”
BOTTOM LINE: Without strong test scores (or no test scores), it is imperative that students in the class of 2021 spend time composing a thoughtfully constructed resume and an engaging personal essay that will make them stand out amidst a competitive application pool.