Originally Posted: May 4, 2020
Last Updated: May 4, 2020
Despite many schools across the United States closing their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, students can (and should) still spend their time productively. But we understand it’s a little difficult to find the motivation to do much of anything right now. That’s why we wanted to provide you some quick tips for getting ready to apply to college! Here are five ways high school students can work on their future college applications right now.
1. Create a college list
It’s never too early to start building your college list—the list of schools that interest you and potentially align with your needs and goals. Organize your list with school names and the average stats of their applicants, like SAT/ACT scores, GPA, average acceptance rates, etc. Keep your list somewhere convenient like an Excel spreadsheet so you can easily compare a variety of school statistics to your grades and scores. Building a strategic college list will give yourself the best chance of getting into the right college or university for you.
Related: College Search Spreadsheet Template
2. Begin the common application prompts
For juniors, you can get started on the Common Application now, as the prompts for the 2020–2021 cycle have already been announced. Writing your 650-word personal statement takes weeks (if not months) to get right because you need to brainstorm a topic that gives a unique insight into your life and experiences.
If you’re not sure how to start your essay, there are great online resources to help you do just that! For instance, you can try joining an online course like the ones offered by Moon Prep (you can enroll for free for a limited time). “How to Write a Winning Personal Statement” reveals multiple advanced strategies for crafting the perfect personal statement. The classes cover real-world examples of essays, brainstorming techniques, and common mistakes to avoid so you can feel more prepared to showcase your best self.
3. Prepare your résumé
When you fill out the Common Application, you only have 150 characters to describe each of your activities, which usually isn’t enough space to sufficiently describe all you’ve done. But you can supplement this section by submitting a résumé with your applications.
When describing your activities and accomplishments, use action words and quantify whenever possible. By doing so, it gives context to your dedication and successes and helps admission officers understand your activities a little better.
4. Apply for scholarships
High school students of all grades can start looking for scholarships at any time. By applying to three or four awards per week, you can start banking money now to pay for college later.
Start by looking for local scholarships. Check your school’s website, local nonprofits, or businesses to see what scholarships you might qualify for. And don’t skip the ones that require you to write essays! Other students may avoid these, which means it could be easier for you to win. Also, when searching for scholarships, be wary of websites that require you to pay a fee. These types of sites are likely scams—it should never cost money to apply to a scholarship.
5. Sign up for a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)
Even if your school is providing digital learning, you might want to consider signing up for an extra online class on a platform like Coursera or edX. Both sites have thousands of courses available, taught by professors from top universities and companies like Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, Google, and IBM. By taking a MOOC, you can learn more about a topic you’re passionate about or discover a new interest.
Students shouldn’t waste the additional time at home they’ve unexpectedly found themselves with. Take advantage of this opportunity to get ahead on your college applications and continue to build your academic profile.
Have you finished building your college list? Use our College Search tool to find more schools you might want to apply to!