It’s begun. My kid isn’t even out of school till tomorrow, but the newspapers are already starting to print stories about what high school juniors need to do to get ready to apply for college this coming fall – their senior year. Damn, how about a little breathing room?
Nonetheless, an important segment of The Polished Paragraph’s business is helping seniors with their college application essays. This means that I follow these news stories carefully and try to keep up with changes in the application process. For instance, many of you may not know that last year many schools – including those using the Common Application – moved to an essay that’s no longer than 500 words. (The minimum is 250 for those who may be wondering.) While I question whether or not college officials can get an adequate read on a student’s personality and his/her abilities in 450 words, that is just the state of the business of college today. It could be worse; I recently read an article indicating that some hoity-toity, private school wanted students to tell about themselves in less than 25 words. This is NOT an essay; it’s a tweet! How much more can we dumb down society into sound bites? (Okay, maybe we’ll post about that another day.)
Anyway, the article I read in Sunday’s Providence Journal, had some ideas for juniors to launch them into this whole process. While I generally believe that parents and the media/professionals overly stress parents about this stuff who in turn stress their kids, Lee Bierer, the author, did have a couple of good ideas that kids can work on this summer, especially while they have some free time.
- Finish deciding which schools he/she is really interested in. Don’t forget to include a couple of “safety” schools that the student 1) knows he or she has the academic chops to get into and 2) can afford – this will require much parental input!
- Plan campus visits to schools for during the summer and fall.
- Decide if the student might need some help prepping for the ACT or SATs. This could mean taking a commercial class or hiring a college student to tutor your kid during the summer.
- Consider what the subject of the application essay will be. Think about taking a stab at it early – during the summer – so the student’s not overwhelmed when he/she goes back to school in August or September. This could be a really good idea for student athletes who run a tight schedule of homework, class, practices, and games.
Lastly, please do not stress about the process at this early date. Lots of kids procrastinate…and still get into school without a hitch. It’s in their natures. And they do get really busy what with all the schoolwork, extracurriculars, community service, jobs, and other things now required to get into college. I edit and proofread a lot of essays in November right before the early identification applications are due in to the universities. Every one of my kids has made that deadline.
Tomorrow’s the first real day of summer, the solstice. And it’s going to be hot here in New England. I want everyone to sit down and just enjoy the day (or the evening, if you’re at work till then) and each other’s company. And give your kid a break till at least after the 4th of July. Encourage them to take that break. If nothing else, it’ll freak’em out.
(PS – For those wishing to read the Lee Bierber’s article, you can find it here.)