Ah, yes. Spring break: the time to lounge poolside, visit your camp boyfriend in his hometown, or finally give into the guilt and take a trip to visit your nanna and poppy. Well, that’s if you’re some other kid. But you are not some other kid. You are a high-achiever who plans to attend a great university. While it may be a tough pill to swallow, spring break is really just an opportunity for you to build a fool-proof college list and become the best candidate for admission you possibly can. And hey, we’re sure nanna and poppy would love to join you on the tour, too.
If you are a junior, it’s time for you to visit your top choice schools. Well, it's been time. If you are one our clients, you’ve already visited five to ten schools. You should, at this point, know your preferences. February and March break are ideal times to visit, mostly because classes will still be in session so you will actually get a sense for what campus is really like, not some weird, dystopian version where students don’t actually live there.
Take a Moment
Before you get going on planning, we encourage you to take a moment and think about your trajectory. You have nine months left and that’s it. While that may seem like an eternity, building out all elements of a well-rounded college application can take a while. This is an inflection point and you need to plan. We recommend making a timeline in March for the rest of your year. In this time, you should also finalize a college list.
Finalizing a list can be really hard if you haven’t taken the SAT/ACT yet and don’t know which schools are realistic for you. Note to freshmen and sophomores reading this post: by March of your junior year, with the exception of SAT IIs, you should be done with standardized testing so you will be prepared to make your list. While that might seem a bit hasty, consider it like giving yourself extra time at the airport.
Allow Time for a Smoothie
One of our writers recently took a trip across the country. It was a Saturday, so she didn’t think she needed to plan ahead for traffic and google maps looked clear. Besides, she also had TSA pre-check. Regardless, our writer decided to give herself a 40-minute buffer because she wanted to have time to eat. Ten minutes into her taxi ride, police began diverting traffic into a detour. In that time, she noticed that her TSA pre-check assignment hadn’t posted to her ticket. The airline call center was busy, so she had to go to the ticket counter when she arrived. She pulled up to security, only to realize that the TSA pre-check line was closed and waited in the long line at security. Once she got through, she was told that, inexplicably, domestic flights from NYC to LA were actually in the international terminal, so, now that she was on schedule and no longer early, she’d have to book it across the airport. She got in line to grab a quick smoothie, but after waiting for five minutes realized that only one person was working that day and two people were ahead of her. She fled to another local and begged them to make her an omelet to-go before her flight boarded in ten minutes. Finally, with no time to spare, she got to the gate, only to realize that she had left her ticket somewhere between security and omelet. She got her new ticket just in time.
The point is, give yourself room for TSA pre-check closures and terminal changes, or more likely, for you to change your mind on your top choice-school, retake the SAT even though you were sure you’d ace it, and have some time to breathe, too. Assume your transcripts won't be sent on time and you're going to experience stress. There is no point in condensing all of that stress into six to nine months. If you’re a TKG client, you’re already done by March.
Learn to Write
During this time, we also start brainstorming Common App essay topics with our kids. It might seem a little early, but it’s not. While you might have gotten an A in English lit, college essays are probably different from any writing you’ve done before. Unless you're a pro at creative non-fiction short stories, it's going to take a little to get the hang of things. So, while it might be hard to accept, we’re basically teaching you how to write. Start as early as possible.
Need some help developing the perfect common app essay? Give us a call. We specialize in helping students craft essays that blow admissions committees away.