College Application Preparation: How I Made the Most of My Summer

Summer is not only a great time to relax but also get ahead in your college preparations

A student preparing her college application.
It’s hard for me to believe that this is my last summer as an NYU undergraduate student. It feels like yesterday I was a high school junior with my head buried deep in an SAT prep book. Now I’m looking into grad school programs! As I prepare for my senior year of college, I am replicating some of the steps I took over the summer when I was in high school to make my senior year go smoothly. Here’s a list of things I did for my college application preparation.

1. I Worked a Part-Time Job

Over the summer I worked as a waitress at my local pizza place. This was an easy way to earn some extra money for senior year. While I was fortunate enough to have my parents help me out with some college application fees, I still had to cover some of the costs. Outside of application fees, there are costs associated with standardized testing, mailing documents, and visiting colleges. My job helped me pay for those expenses, and it helped me start saving some money for senior year and college. I also gained valuable work experience that I was able to discuss on my college application.

2. I Completed an Internship

While I did learn a lot at my pizza joint gig, I wanted to gain some professional experience in film and TV, my future college major. To do this I completed a video production internship for a local business. There, I followed the business owner around with a camera to create a documentary-style advertisement for the company. Through this internship, I managed an independent project, learned advertising techniques, and gained practice in my craft. Also, on my college applications, this internship demonstrated my dedication to learning more about film.

Two girls looking at a camera viewfinder.

3. I Went on Campus Visits

In between my internship and job schedule, I made sure to plan some time to visit college campuses near me. When I was visiting colleges, I didn’t have the option to take virtual tours. So I didn’t get to see everywhere on my list. To make up for that, I tried to tour a variety of colleges to get a feel for what different types of campuses are like. I toured medium and large college campuses, liberal arts colleges and conservatories, and schools in and outside of cities. This really helped my college application preparation because it gave me a good idea of what type of school I was looking for. So when a college described itself as a large, urban, liberal arts college, for example, I had an idea of what campus life was like.

The author standing in front of Washington Square Park with her arms up.
After my NYU campus tour in August 2017.

4. I Started My Applications

After I toured some campuses, I got to work on my applications. One thing more students should know is that the Common Application opens every year on August 1. This means most students in the United States will have about a month to work on their applications before school starts. I saved myself a lot of stress during my hectic first semester of senior year by starting my applications in the summer. I actually wish I spent more time in the summer writing essays or gathering important documents to make my senior year easier. The bulk of this time was spent writing my “Why NYU?” essay. After my NYU tour, I was so excited to apply, and you could read that in my essay.

“While touring NYU, I walked through the school’s de facto ‘quad,’ Washington Square Park. The diversity, music, art, and even dogs revealed an environment that inspires and sustains my craft.”

5. I Relaxed!

While I kept pretty busy over the summer, I still managed to find time to relax and enjoy the sunny days. I made sure to spend time with family and friends. We watched movies, made cupcakes, sunbathed at the beach, and soaked in the pool! The summer is a great time for college application preparation, but it is also a time to unwind and enjoy yourself. Be sure to make the most of it, but don’t work yourself too hard!

The author and a friend at the beach.
The author and a friend holding cupcakes.