If you’re a senior preparing to apply to college this fall, you’ve probably been advised, nudged, or even nagged to “work on your applications over the summer.” It’s good advice. We’ve been saying the same to our Collegewise students for nearly 22 years. But too many students cross the finish line of their busy junior year and then treat their summer as if a new race has just begun, bounding out of the starting blocks to execute their application-related to-do’s like an Olympic sprinter trying to break the sound barrier. And that’s not a race worth running if what you gain in progress comes at the cost of thinking.
College applications are your opportunity to show colleges who you are, how you’ve spent your time, what makes you tick, what you’re excited to learn, and not just why you want to go to college, but why you want to go to this college. Questions like those shouldn’t be treated like a chore to check-off as quickly as possible (you’re not cleaning your room or giving your dog a bath here). They should be treated like an invitation to help people who’ve never met you understand more about who you really are.
Put a different way, the goal isn’t to finish as quickly as possible; it’s to finish as thoughtfully as possible.
I worked with a high-achieving student years ago who arrived at each of our summer meetings eager to talk about not just what he’d completed, but also what he’d discovered about himself while doing so. He used the application and essay prompts to examine his life, to think deeply about what he’d enjoyed about high school and why he was excited to attend college. Playing water polo, learning his favorite Beatles songs on the guitar, spending his Saturdays surfing with his friends (including their ritual lunch at their favorite roadside burger stand where he was sure the chili fries had done permanent damage to his internal organs) — every answer gave the reader a peek into his life, his mind, and his motivations.
On the day in early fall when he submitted his final applications, he remarked that he’d been pleasantly surprised by how introspective the entire process had been. And he went on to study electrical engineering at Stanford.
So yes, get started on your college applications this summer. You’ll inevitably have more time and less stress than you will when your senior year kicks into high gear. But remember that the real summer advantage is to put more thought into what you’re doing, not just to get more done. The thoughtful and deliberate applicant won’t finish first, but they’ll win the more important college admissions race.
About Us: With more than twenty years of experience, Collegewise counselors and tutors are at the forefront of the ever-evolving admissions landscape. Our work has always centered on you: the student. And just like we’ve always done, we look for ways for you to be your best self - whether it’s in the classroom, in your applications or in the right-fit college environment. Our range of tools include counseling, test prep, academic tutoring, and essay management, all with the support of our proprietary platform, leading to a 4x higher than average admissions rates.