June 20, 2024
By Kerry Lynch

Welcome to the lazy days of summer! However, maybe these days are not too lazy for you if you are in high school. Many high school students (36.6%) hold jobs over the summer, volunteer, and/or participate in study or travel programs. In the summer between junior and senior year, these same students are engaged in the college admissions process. It may be tempting to put off many of your college tasks until school starts again in September, but admissions trends show that getting an early start gives students a clear advantage.

Why do college work in the summer? Because of two building trends: test scores and early applications. 

While many schools remain test-optional and only about 50% of the students using the Common Application last year self-reported their scores, a number of schools have announced they will require scores going forward. This includes top private colleges, as well as state systems like Florida and Georgia.  Nearly every school will consider your test scores as part of their application review if you submit them. In other words, good scores can help your chances in almost any situation. The summer is a great time to prepare for tests because you don’t have other schoolwork to do. Also, did you know there are summer test administrations? You can take an SAT in August (8/24, register by 8/9) or an ACT in July (7/13, register by 6/21). If you prepare and test in the summer, you’ll have the data you need to finalize your college list, determine which schools you will send scores to, and develop a better understanding of your chances of being accepted. 

Early applications have been growing significantly over the past five years. Colleges and universities continue to add early admissions programs,such as the new Early Decision option at the University of Vermont and University of Connecticut, Early Decision II options at more and more schools, and earlier Early Action deadlines. Your chances of being accepted are higher when you submit early. It is data that you cannot ignore. The large, flagship state institutions are a great example. Last year, the University of Tennessee received more than 10,000 more early applications than the previous year. Their EA acceptance rate is about 10% higher than their regular decision. Early Decision applicants often fill around 50% of the available seats at private, highly selective colleges. Application deadlines, in general, are trending earlier; for example, University of Texas at Austin has a final deadline of December 1, University of Washington has a November 15 deadline, and the entire University of California system has a deadline of November 30. Many programs that require a portfolio also have earlier deadlines, so it’s important for students to map out their application timeline before the summer is over.  

The good news is that this college work doesn’t need to infringe upon your lazy, carefree summer days. Setting aside even one hour per week can go a long way toward reducing application stress in the fall. In about 30 minutes, you can create a quick spreadsheet that lists application deadlines, portfolio deadlines (if applicable), and standardized testing requirements. So go ahead, grab yourself your favorite pink drink at the local coffee shop or get an ice cream sundae to go and do a little work now to save yourself from big worries later on. You won’t regret it!

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