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Junior Year to Senior Year Summer Planning

By Molly Walsh - Spring Break has passed, and standardized testing has passed. School is coming to an end for junior year. Maybe you attended the Prom, maybe your sports team made it to the finals, perhaps you competed nationally in DECA or Speech and Debate, and maybe (hopefully) you even know what you want to do after high school.

Finishing junior year of high school comes with a lot of excitement. Many of you have made plans to attend college. You may not know your study path, but that’s okay; you can figure that out later. It’s hard to think about the rest of your life when you are 17. Plus, your mind can change several times before finding the right career. That’s the joy of going to college! You can try out different courses to better understand what you want to do and what piques your interest.

Planning for college is all about time management. The more you do ahead of time, the less stressed you’ll feel when it’s time to apply. I know, easier said than done! 

I remember the summer before my senior year. I just wanted to hang out with my friends and have fun. It seemed like the last summer we would all spend together before heading off in different directions. College was on my mind, but it seemed so far away, too! I don’t recall the pressure of getting into specific colleges like there is today. Yes, there were competitive schools, but it was and still is about finding the right place. I learned about schools around the country from a vast college book, but none of my friends ventured off the East Coast. Having to take an airplane to college was a foreign concept. If you couldn’t drive there, then it was too far. 

Here's some exciting news. As a student, you can attend colleges worldwide! And that's not all. Many schools offer generous scholarships to assist with travel expenses and other college-related costs. This means that financial constraints should encourage you to explore your dream college, no matter where it is on the globe.

So, what should you do this summer to help prepare for your college applications? Follow this guideline!

  1. Request Recommendations: Before school ends for the year, talk to three teachers you had this year or last year who could write a recommendation for you. Use the college system at school (aka, Maia Learning) to have the teachers submit the letters. It is best to speak to them in person and follow up with an email and instructions on where to send the letter. You may also want to ask a coach, club adviser, or teacher mentor. Teachers have time to write letters over the summer, so it’s best to ask them now.

  2. Write and finish your Personal Essay: Most schools use the Common Application, and this essay is the one you want to complete over the summer. Here are the prompts for 2025:

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

  • Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

  1. Finalize Your College List: Read through previous blogs to get an idea of what should be included on your list—for example, school name, location, cost, majors, social life, etc. 

  2. Prepare for the Common Application: The Common Application opens on August 1, 2024. Fill out everything you can as soon as it opens. That way, if you need help or have questions, there is plenty of time before you start your senior year. 

  3. Research Scholarships: Use this website to help locate scholarships - Also, check with your school counseling office and the college directly.

If you follow these five steps this summer, you will be in great shape to apply for college. There will be supplemental essays and activity lists to add to specific applications, but I believe you will complete it on time. Oh, and always remember to make time for some fun!


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