Start Working on Applications Over the Summer

If you have just completed Grade 11 and plan to apply to university, do a favor for your future self (that is, your September self) by getting started on university and scholarship applications this summer. Don’t wait until the fall. Grade 12 is a busy year and you’ll need to focus on doing your best academic work. Preparing applications takes much more time than most students realize.

What can you do to make sure you have both an enjoyable summer and start your final year of high school well-prepared for applications? Create a solid and detailed plan! Here are some tips to help you get started.

1. Create a Master ‘To Do’ List
Create a master list of everything that goes into the university planning and application process. Be specific. Your list may include ‘make a list of potential schools and programs’, ‘check application requirements and deadlines’, ‘find scholarships I am eligible for’, ‘make a list of application essays’, and ‘brainstorm for essay topics and ideas’.

2. Break Down Master List Items into Smaller Tasks
A task like ‘make a list of potential schools and programs’ requires multiple steps and many students don’t know where to start. Overcome this by breaking big tasks into smaller ones. For example, the first step to ‘making a list of potential schools and programs’ might be to list characteristics of your future university that are important to you such as availability of specific majors, campus size and location, and financial fit. Taking the time to think about and list these characteristics will help you select the right schools to apply to.

3. Set Manageable Expectations
University applications always take longer than students expect. Look ahead at your summer. What do you have planned? Are you taking a summer class, working, volunteering, or travelling? Whether you’ll have a lot of free time, or very little, it will make a big difference if you identify and block out time on your calendar now to work through your checklists. Estimate how much time you think you’ll need – and double it. And if you’re not yet in the habit of using a calendar, this is a good time to start. Some people love digital calendars that sync across all their devices and others swear by paper calendars. If you’re not sure what works best for you, experiment with both this summer.

4. Prepare for Standardized Tests
Standardized test requirements vary from country to country. Examples are the ACT and SAT tests for US colleges and universities, subject specific tests for UK universities, and English proficiency tests such as IELTS and TOEFL. Check testing requirements and deadlines for the schools you intend to apply to. The number of spots per testing location is limited, so reserve a test date as soon as registration opens. Then, block out study time on your calendar.

Covid-19 has impacted testing requirements for students starting university in the fall of 2021, so it’s extra important this summer to check the policies for each of the schools on your list. For example, most US schools have made ACT/SAT tests optional for the upcoming cycle. English proficiency tests are not optional, but more and more schools are accepting the Duolingo English Test which can be taken from home.

5. Get Help
If you’re having trouble getting your tasks done, find help. You can find a lot of free resources online to guide you through the process, or if you’d like to work one-to-one with an expert, contact us at: