Vice President for Enrollment Emerita, Smith College
Whether you are planning to apply to college as an early applicant or through regular decision, there is plenty you can do at the start of senior year. Use the following recommendations to make a senior checklist for the fall.
Finish college visits
In-person tours are still the best way to get a feel for the campus environment, but if you can’t visit in person, there are options available that did not exist two or three years ago. At the start of the pandemic, most colleges switched to virtual tours and events, and they are continuing to offer these today in addition to in-person tours. My former school, Smith College, offers an online tour across campus covering our many buildings and residence areas.
Take advantage of virtual offerings at the colleges that interest you; you may be able to “visit” more colleges this way to fine-tune the final list.
Create your student profile
Both the Coalition and the Common App are open to students starting August 1. These are used by colleges to streamline the admissions process. Create your profile for either application (the choice depends on the colleges you are considering) and include the colleges on your list. You can always add more colleges later.
It is imperative to keep track of application deadlines, especially if you apply early action or early decision. Those deadlines will be in the fall.
Ask for letters of recommendation
September is a great time to ask for letters of recommendations. Ask teachers who know you well and give them plenty of time (three to four weeks) to write a thoughtful reflection on their experiences with you in the classroom. Consider teachers who can speak to your personal growth, contributions to the class, or your resolve to overcome academic challenges.
Perfect your essay
The college essay provides insight into who you are as an individual beyond your grades and test scores. And depending on the college, it can play a significant role in your application. The Coalition and the Common App provide several essay prompts to choose from, as well as tips to get started. Regardless of the essay topic, make sure to write in your own voice and show how the topic relates to you.
This is an opportunity to share what’s important to you, how your experiences have shaped you, and the unique attributes you’ll bring to the college.