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by Vault Education Editors | June 23, 2009


At this point, the school year is winding down formost high school students and summer is on the horizon.  While most of you are probably in the midstof a flurry of final exams and the last thing on your minds is the SAT andcollege applications, it's important not to forget about them over thesummer.  Definitely take break and relaxonce school is over, but you'll be thanking yourself in the fall if you get ajumpstart on your test preparation and college applications before you beginsenior year.

Finishyour Common Application

The Common Application is released in July and isaccepted by most schools, so if you are able to complete the Common App beforestarting school in the fall, you're in a great position.  You can fill everything out online startingin just a few weeks, and save changes as you go along. 

Start with all of your personal information and thenwork on your activity sheet.  If you havea lot of activities, sports and volunteer work, you'll probably have to make aseparate activity sheet and upload it to your application because the onlineform may not have enough room.  For ideason how to organize your activity, feel free to contact The Edge for advice at  Once you've completed your activity sheet, it'sprobably easiest to write your activity essay next.  It's a short essay of about 150 wordsdescribing your most meaningful activity. 

Your personal statement will be the most difficult andinvolved part of your application, so be sure to give yourself plenty oftime.  Summer is a good time to startthinking about possible topics.  You'll wantto focus on something that showcases who you are aside from you grades and testscores.  We'll discuss the personalstatement in detail in a future post.

Startprepping for standardized tests

If you were lucky enough to have finished all of yourstandardized tests in the spring of your senior year, then you don't need toworry about the fall tests.  However, ifyou still have tests to complete in the fall, it's a good idea to startprepping for them over the summer.  Thefirst ACT is in September and the first SAT is at the beginning of October,which doesn't leave much time to prepare once school starts again.  If you set a study schedule for the six weeksleading up to the start of school, you'll have plenty of time to prepare forall sections of the exam.

Participatein volunteer work, an academic program, an internship or a summer job

The summer is a greattime to enhance your resume if you don't have enough time to participate inactivities during the school year.  Ifthere is a cause that you feel particularly connected to, you should try tofind volunteer opportunities over the summer to highlight your interest.  Other options for summer activities includeacademic programs for high school students at universities throughout thecountry, a summer job or an internship. Despite what your parents may think about a summer job as a lifeguard,waiter or clerk, schools definitely look favorably on students who work andearn money because it teaches them about value. 


For ideas on specific summer programs or assistancewith the Common Application, feel free to contact us at or byphone at (877) 499-EDGE.  For moreinformation, please browse our website at


Filed Under: Education|Grad School