Posted by: W. E. Poplaski | June 4, 2008

Senior Action Plan: Summer

You’re almost done with this race!  Your focus during this summer is on the college application process. Also, don’t forget that a slip in your GPA during the fall will lower your cumulative GPA, which would be seen by college admission committees.


Your summer action plan should at least include:

  1. Coming up with your final list of colleges. These are the schools to which you will apply.  (The summer and fall are great times to visit college campuses.  Many schools give tours for prospective students).  A good strategy is to include: two stretch schools (schools that, based on your SAT / ACT scores and GPA, would be challenging for you to  gain admission), two schools whose incoming freshman class has a profile that matches your own, and two schools with student profiles that indicate you would be near the top of their class.  (Colleges often post student profiles on their websites.)
  2. Investigating the application procedures for your list of colleges (pay attention to required application fees—these can be $50-$100 per application—and DEADLINES).  Many colleges use the same common application.  If this is true of your schools, then you will only need to fill out one application for all of the schools on your list ( ).
  3. Teacher recommendations.  Some schools require you to have teachers write letters of recommendation for you. Come up with a list of candidate teachers and talk to your guidance counselor about your list. Hint: make sure you give your teachers at least one-month to write and submit their letters (that means you need to know the deadlines for their submissions).
  4. Application essays.  Some schools require applicants to write essays as part of the application process.  Do not simply submit a rough draft!  You will need to revise your essay at least three or four times.  Your best bet is to ask a teacher to provide you with constructive criticism on your essay as part of the revision process.  Here is an example of some college essays that worked ( ).  Also, check out the Essay Edge website; they offer some great tips on writing admission essays ( ).
  5. SAT / ACT scores.  This is your last chance to improve your SAT / ACT scores.  If your scores need to improve, then this is the summer to put in the work to do it.  Plan on taking the October exams.


Your goal should be to have any required college admission essays completed by September 1st and your applications completed, reviewed and ready for submission by October 31st.




Start your summer reading with these challenging books:


Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey, by Spencer Wells

My Journey to Lhasa, by Alexandra David-Neel

Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science, by Charles Wheelan

Zorba the Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis







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