Heading Into Senior Year – And Beyond!

By Dr. Elena Olsen, College Counselor

Believe it or not, juniors are heading into their final year at EPS. There is so much to experience and enjoy in that last year of high school, and at the same time, it is natural and necessary to look beyond our campus. Indeed, 11th graders have already begun to immerse themselves in this process: they are currently in the second round of family meetings with their counseling team and have had several individual meetings with their process coach. They’ve studied a set of application files as part of a mock admissions committee and have begun working on their personal statement for applications.

Last month, we hosted our annual Mock Admissions Night, a richly informative and enjoyable evening in which we were joined by admissions deans from a variety of institutions across the country, and juniors and families learned about college admissions through their eyes. The most significant takeaway for students was seeing the entirety of an application and the importance of each part of it.

Last week, juniors attended a Work Party to begin working on their college applications. Leading in to our August 23rd Writing Workshop, juniors should be brainstorming and writing with the guidance of their writing coach (Ms. Luhrs or Dr. Olsen). The primary question students should be thinking about as they brainstorm and write is this: What do I want colleges to know about me? The vehicle is less important than what the essay says about the student’s perspective, way of thinking or learning, and/or values. Students are talking with their writing coach about how to use time effectively in the summer to work toward a personal statement draft. Senior fall is extremely busy, and it is important that students have a substantial start on the essay before the school year begins.

Many juniors and their families are asking whether it is a good idea to visit colleges over the summer, when many are not in session. Summer is indeed a good time to visit schools, for one primary reason: it’s when student schedules are the most open and flexible. Colleges know that summer is an ideal time for many families to visit their campuses, and they are ready to receive you, with information sessions and student-led tours running throughout the summer. Certainly, an important aspect of campus visits is to experience some of the student culture and “vibe,” but a summer visit will provide a solid sense of the campus, surroundings, and programs. If a student applies to and is accepted by a school visited in the summer, that student may want to return during the school year as she is making the final decision.

The College Counseling team has been advising students that they must now be intentional about making time in their schedule for the college research and application process. What’s important at this juncture is that rising seniors and their families begin scheduling specific calendar time for not only college visits but other commitments they want to keep as a family during the year. It will fly by, and—though it may not feel like it for students—there are many other aspects of the year just as important as applying to college.

Juniors, congratulations on your ascent into the 12th grade! Make time for researching or visiting colleges, writing (keep a notebook handy to jot down ideas), and, most importantly, have a fun and fulfilling summer.