High School Seniors: Time to Kick-Start the College Application Process

Thank you to Kiersten Murphy, of Murphy College Consultants, for this guest post.  It is filled with great information for both parents students.

If you are a high school senior, there are some things that you can do this summer to make the most of your two months ‘off’ to best prepare for the college application process.

By now, you should be in the thick of things – narrowing your college list and making arrangements for summer visits.  By September, you should know where you want to apply, so there is no time like the present to start digging in and really exploring your college list.  In addition to identifying your learning style (that is, what learning environment best suits you), your strengths, weaknesses, your admissibility, potential for aid (use the net price calculator) and college must have’s, you need to spend time getting to know your college choices by analyzing their websites.  Do they have what you want, does their philosophy meet your own, what opportunities will you have for internships or research, will you be able to continue special interests like sports, music, leadership, etc.?

After you have spent a lot of time exploring the college’s website, it is helpful to visit other websites such as U-CAN, College Navigator, and Unigo to explore further.  Be sure you consider the value of the education offered and explore statistics released as part of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

In addition to exploring your college list, you can consider doing:


I don’t think there are many of you out there that would buy an expensive pair of jeans or a new car without trying it out. You can read about it, look at pictures, but you really don’t know how it fits you. The same would be true of one of your biggest investments – your college education. College brochures are attractive, websites offer details relating to statistics, but what you really need to do is to see it, to know if you can ultimately see yourself there. Summer visits are a bit harder, as you won’t see the campus when it is in session, but you will get an opportunity to see the facilities, speak with admissions, chat with a coach or professor and explore the surrounding community.

Test Prep

Seniors – summer is your last opportunity for SAT or ACT test prep.  Juniors – now is the time to jump on the standardized test prep wagon – really, now is the time. I encourage you to explore local companies where you will have an opportunity to work in a small group or one-on-one with a tutor.  Can’t afford it or can’t fit it into your schedule?  Visit this free resource to get some help – Number2.com.   Seniors – you will want to sign up to take your second round of SAT or ACT tests this fall.  Registration deadlines fall well in advance of test dates, so go ahead and register today.

College Fairs
College Fairs and regional receptions are a great way to get to know the college on your home turf.  The college comes to you, making it easier for you to reach out and connect. Get on the mailing list to ensure you get invited to area events.  You should also check out the Colleges That Change Lives fair this summer.  If you haven’t heard about this interesting group of colleges, take a few minutes to explore their website.

Colleges That Change Lives Fair:

Meydenbauer Center
11100 NE 6th Street
Bellevue, WA
July 28, 2012 at 10 AM

Artists and Athletes
Use the summer to develop your athletic resume, polish your portfolio or prepare for your audition.  Don’t forget, if you want to play DI or DII in college, you must register with the NCAA.

Launch the Essay and Application Process

Summer is a great time for seniors to begin the college essay writing process. Often a great deal of the work can be completed by September 1st as you aren’t dealing with mounds of homework. On August 1st, the Common Application goes live – this is when you can create an account, upload the Personal Statement and begin working on the Supplements as they become available.

If you have any questions about how you can personally kick-start the application and essay process, feel free to give me a call.  I work with students on essay brainstorming as well as provide guidance throughout the application process in the fall. Good luck!


Kiersten Murphy, of Murphy College Consultants LLC, is an Independent College Consultant who guides high school students and their families through the college search and application process.   She is a Snoqualmie Valley resident who works with students locally, as well as across the US, Europe and Asia.  To inquire about services for your student, including assistance with college list development, essay brainstorming or application guidance, please visit Murphy College Consultants or become a Fan on Facebook.

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