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11 Tips for the Summer Before Your Senior Year
“Next year, that’ll be me.” The mantra autorepeats every time you pass your friends’ university-branded graduation banners, go to another graduation party, and attend the next senior banquet. You’re next, and there’s nothing better! It’s almost your turn, so our college admission pros have put together their top advice to help rising seniors prepare to step up to the plate of their senior year. College visits, applications, essays and scholarship competitions are here, and we want you to make the most of all of it. We’ve been through this a time or two, so read on, follow these tips, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.
1. Strategize. Don’t wait until the last second to consider when you will visit the colleges that you’re considering. Look at your calendar now and talk with your family or support system about when you think will be the best time to visit campuses. If possible, get visits on the calendar ASAP. Hint: Consider visiting in the summer because your fall calendar will fill up quickly with school, service and work commitments.2. Practice introducing yourself. Seriously! During your senior year of high school, you will likely be asked to introduce yourself often, between events at your high school, college visits and admission interviews, job and internship interviews, and even in your extracurricular hobbies or at your job. Learning how to effectively and comfortably introduce yourself to someone new will set you apart from your peers and help you to make the connections you need to take next steps. For example, when interviewing prospective student employees for our office at Capital, we ask students to share their name, year in school, major and other activities they’re involved in. We also ask our full-tuition-scholarship contestants to introduce themselves during their on-campus interview. Being able to introduce yourself confidently is a skill you won’t regret learning!3. Find a mentor. You’ll be making some big decisions this year. Who will be your sounding board, proofreader, and chief encourager as you work through senior year and make decisions about life after high school? Your mentor could be a family member, a teacher, a school counselor, a coach, a close family friend, or someone else in your life who you trust and who has your best interests in mind. Communicate with this person that you would like them to serve in this role for you during your senior year, and be open to talking through decisions with them – both big and small! Mentors can offer unique perspective into your life and can also encourage you to stay on top of steps you need to complete. Spoiler alert: When you’re CapFam, mentors are for life.
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4. Finish strong!It can be easy to take your foot off the gas at the end of the year, but it is important to study hard for finals and go out on a high note your junior year. This is the last full year of academic performance records colleges and universities will have to consider when evaluating your application. So make it count. This is no time to slack off.5. Embrace the new. Control the things you can. Don’t sweat the rest.You’re on the cusp of a new point in your life. With newness comes uncertainty. Embrace it. You’re not supposed to have all the answers. That’s what learning is all about. (Hint: Learning is lifelong, so get comfortable with it.) Worry about the things you can control – your grades, your experiences, your time, your relationships, your choices – and release the things outside of your control. No one needs that kind of anxiety. This will be an amazing year filled with emotions, endings and new beginnings. Embrace every single emotion you are feeling and be hopeful about the journey you are about to embark on.6. Practice gratitude.Thank your family. This is a new experience for them too! They are feeling every emotion that you are. And then some. Be sure to show gratitude to the people who got you this far, and who will continue to have your back through your senior year. They will continue to be your support throughout your transition into college. (Hint: We consider them CapFam, too.)
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7. Streamline communications.Lots of colleges and universities will be communicating with you in the coming year, and many already are. As you identify the pool of schools you’re interested in learning more about, and as you narrow your choices, it will be important for those schools to know you’re as interested in them as they are in you. To make sure important messages, like application and scholarship deadlines, don’t fall through the cracks, use one email address for all college search communications. (Pro tip: Consider creating a joint account with your parents, guardian or support system so all communications go to the same, centralized inbox.)8. Visit once. Visit often.There’s no doubt first impressions are important. But so are second and third impressions. College campuses, and the cities they’re located in, look and feel different at various points of the year. So try to visit schools you’re interested in more than once. Listen to Capital student Joe Eskra, who visited Capital seven times while he was making his decision. Most schools publish visit events far in advance. Visit formally through the admission office, or simply make plans to attend an event, meet a coach or professor, or just explore the campus and nearby community on your own or with your family. Check out the local tourism and visitors bureaus, like Experience Columbus, to get a feel for the community that will be your home for the next four years – maybe longer if an internship turns into a job after you graduate.
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9. One size does not fit all. Explore your options.Despite what some say, colleges and universities are NOT all the same, and they offer very different educational experiences. Capital prides itself on not being a cookie-cutter college, and we don’t expect our students to fit a certain mold. We want you to bring all of your original self to our community. So, start visiting colleges now. Make sure to visit all kinds – small, large, urban, rural, liberal arts, comprehensive, private, public and more. You never know where you’ll find your fit. (But we hope it’s here.)10. When it comes to fit, trust your gut.Listen to your guidance counselor when they tell you fit matters more than fame when it comes to college choice. Reputation and rankings aside, the “best” college may not be the best college for you if it’s not a good fit. When your style of learning and development matches a college’s approach to student learning and development, you’ll both – student and college – get the most out of your experience. There’s something about fit. You’ll know it when you feel it. So pay attention to how you feel when you’re on campus. If you’re not sure the first time, visit again. And don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if it’s just, “What do students do on the weekends?”11. Keep your options open.It’s the dreaded question at every family gathering: What are you going to major in? There are A LOT of majors out there, and like me, you probably don’t know what they all are. Do some digging – don’t just stop at doctor, lawyer, teacher, nurse. There are so many other fields out in the world. And in many cases, your major is not what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life. Listen to Career Development Director Eric Anderson explain his approach to counseling students as they explore their interests. So, don’t be afraid to explore. If you know what you want to major in, that’s great! If you change your mind, that’s OK, too. If you have no idea, no big deal. You don’t have to choose a major yet. At Capital, you’re not undecided or undeclared. You’re choosing to Opt Open.
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Have safe, fun and adventurous summer, and as always, please contact us and connect with us if you want to learn more about Capital University.