Breaking down the college process

What juniors should be doing to prepare for college

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Breaking down the college process

Infographic by Rebeka Rafi

Infographic by Rebeka Rafi

Infographic by Rebeka Rafi

Cordelia Lawton & Rebeka Rafi, Reporter & Features Editor and Advertising Manager

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Spring break and summer are right around the corner and there are many opportunities to prepare for college applications.

“Spring break is a good time to start compiling your list of colleges that you’re interested in and thinking about what you might want to major in at college,” senior Helen Ganley said.

Not only is it important to explore options for college, but also Career and College Specialist Laura Venos recommends that students use this time to visit the colleges they are interested in.

“[During spring break] students can see what the college culture looks like with students on campus,” Venos said.

Juniors should also do a preliminary request for letters of recommendation during spring break or towards the end of the school year.

“Oftentimes teachers, especially those that teach core classes, have a limited number of letters that they write each year,” Ganley said.

Summer is a good time for students to start working on college applications, before the craziness of the fall.

“[McLean] hosts a college application workshop on August 7 and 8. That’s a really good way to jump start the application process,” Venos said.

Venos recommends that rising seniors consider doing one meaningful thing over the summer. A good way of finding an opportunity for a meaningful act is through Naviance.

“This one meaningful thing should help a student figure out what they might be interested in the future or at least nurturing an interest of theirs,” Venos said.

Additionally, Venos has offered assistance in exploring potential careers.

“I like to suggest that students think about jobs, and careers, and interests, and try to shadow a professional in that field for a week or two,” Venos said. “I think it’s a really good idea to confirm or maybe deny that interest is something they want to pursue.”

Venos also acknowledges that summer is short and recommends planning it out.

“The very first thing a junior should do is try to look at those ten links [on Naviance] and map out what their perfect summer might look like because again it goes really fast and any student talking to their family might already have a commitment for half the summer,” Venos said.

Junior Gloria Sun has been pro-active in preparing for college by taking classes like AP Chemistry and AP Physics.

“Throughout high school, I’ve been developing a common theme, to make myself ‘spikey,’ in the physical sciences through both my courses and extracurriculars,” Sun said.

This spike idea, created by Harvard graduate Allen Cheng, recommends students identify an interest and work to excel at it. This is something younger students can start to identify and develop.

“Freshmen and sophomores should explore this theme through extracurriculars,” Sun said.

It’s never too early to start looking at colleges.

“Younger students can go look at colleges whenever they want and it’s actually really fun to look at colleges when the pressure is lower,” Venos said.

Although college applications are rapidly approaching, it is important that juniors, don’t let the applications consume their lives.

“Relax. If there’s a vacation on the calendar, spend time with friends, that kind of thing,” Venos said. “That’s really important. You work so hard during the year. You should build in time to relax.”.