July is well underway, and it’s time to get serious about your college applications. Here are four things that college applicants should do this summer:

  • Finalize Your Test Strategy.

At this point, you have likely taken your SAT and/or ACT, as well as your SAT subject tests and any AP exams. If you aren’t happy with your scores, or need to take more subject tests, you still have time to register for the October 11th SAT’s and the September and October ACT’s. If you want to apply early action or early decision, which I highly recommend, plan to study and finish your testing by October.

  • Visit Schools And Choose Your Early Application Targets.

Before school and fall activities constrict your schedule, take some time to visit schools that are high on your list. There really is no substitute for setting foot on campus, and this is especially important if you are considering committing early to a certain school.

  • Write Your Common Application Essay.

The prompts are out, and you will need to answer one of five questions, using a maximum of 650 words. I help my clients brainstorm 2 possible responses to each prompt, and then we identify core themes and pick the strongest illustrations in order to answer one of the prompts. It takes time to do this well, and I suggest that you plan to have your essay polished and ready to go by the time you go back to school.

  • Fill Out The Common Application Itself.

The common application goes live in early August. Take the time now to fill out the application, including demographic information and details about your extracurricular activities and leadership roles. Even if you need to update some of this before you apply, it’s a great idea to organize your thoughts and get as far as you can this summer.

Finishing these important tasks now, without intense time pressure, will help you submit stronger applications. It will also help you enjoy your senior year. Happy summer!

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Karen Marks

Karen has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Clients have been awarded more than 20 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 97% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.