Thanksgiving break is the perfect opportunity for high school seniors to catch their breath and tackle important college application tasks. With Early Action 1 deadlines in the past, Early Action 2 deadlines quickly approaching, and admission results on the horizon, it’s a critical time for college-bound students. As parents, you can help your child make the most of this break with some practical advice. In this blog post, we’ll outline Thanksgiving break college application tips to ensure your child’s time off is productive and well-spent.
Organize Your Application Materials
Your child is in the midst of college applications. This is likely the first time that they are dealing with piles of important paperwork. Help them get and stay organized. Collect all necessary documents, including transcripts, standardized test scores, recommendation letters, and any information needed to meet those EA2 deadlines. Start to collect all the documents and information you’ll need to fill out the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile. Your child will depend on you when it comes to filling out and submitting financial aid forms. Having everything in one place will save time and reduce stress.
Finalize Your College List
If your child hasn’t finalized their college list, now is the time. Evaluate each college’s fit, including academic programs, campus culture, location, and financial considerations. Make sure the list is well-rounded. A college list should never contain just reach schools. You can support your child’s desire to dream big while helping them understand why it’s important to include match and safety schools.
Perfect Your College Essays
Thanksgiving break is an excellent opportunity to work on college essays. Assuming that their teachers haven’t put too much homework on their plates during this holiday break. Encourage your child to review, revise, and proofread their essays. Offer to proofread their essay, and if they aren’t comfortable with that option, suggest they let a trusted relative proofread their essay. Always consider seeking feedback from teachers or counselors before submitting the essay. It’s important to allow time for multiple revisions to create a compelling narrative.
Complete the Common Application
If your child is applying to colleges that use the Common Application, ensure they complete it during the break, if they haven’t already done so. This includes filling out the main application form, adding colleges, and responding to specific college questions and essay prompts. A little downtime during a school break and a step-by-step guide might be exactly what your child needs to focus on this task.
Explore Financial Aid Opportunities
Use this time to explore financial aid opportunities. Research scholarships and grants that may be available and apply for those that match your child’s qualifications. Additionally, you can begin filling out the CSS Profile if any of your child’s schools require it. We expect the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to be open soon!
Schedule College Visits
If possible, consider visiting colleges over the Thanksgiving break. Campus visits are a great way for your child to get a feel for the campus, ask questions, and gain a deeper understanding of the colleges on their list. Although classes might not be in session, a lot of college students choose to stay on campus during this short break. Your child will still have the opportunity to see a lively college campus. Give your admission counselor a call and schedule a visit! Remember, having your child build a relationship with their admission counselors is very important during this stage of the application process.
Request Recommendation Letters
If your child hasn’t already requested recommendation letters, now is the time to do so. Reach out to teachers and counselors and provide them with the necessary information to write strong letters of recommendation. Make sure to choose recommenders that know your child well, and can speak to their character both in and out of the classroom, if possible. If your child emails their teacher or counselor over break, give them a few days to get back to you. They are also on a holiday break, and taking the time to write a personalized letter is a big ask. A follow-up email or in-person visit the following week once everyone is settled back into school might be a good idea. It is also recommended to give them an idea of when you need their letter to be submitted by.
Plan for Interviews
If your child has interviews scheduled or anticipates having them, use the break to prepare. Conduct mock interviews to practice answering common questions and develop strategies for making a positive impression. Not every college will require an interview, but be prepared in case your child receives this request. An interview could be a make it or break it moment for applicants that the school is unsure about.
Thanksgiving break offers a valuable window of time for college-bound students to tackle essential application tasks. My College Planning Team offers many specialized services to help your child complete each of these tasks with ease and success. By following these tips and staying organized, your child can make the most of this break, ensuring their college applications are well-prepared and submitted on time. As a parent, your support and guidance can significantly contribute to a successful college application process. And remember, while it’s important to be productive during the break, it’s equally important to take breaks and relax. A balanced approach will help your child stay motivated and maintain their well-being.