A Summer Guide to Nailing Your College Apps

July 12, 2021
A post by Erica Riesbeck, Associate Director of Admission

Here we are, officially summer break but just 30 days (who’s counting?) until students return in August. It’s a weird feeling of limbo in the college world - especially in the wake of such an unusual year.

The reality is that summer in admission doesn’t mean time off – we’re too excited to prep for next year’s Spider Class of 2026. And rising seniors, while we hope (and expect!) you’ll enjoy some downtime this summer, there are a number of items that you, too, can easily check off your summer to-do list.

Unsure where to start? We’ve got you. Here are a few recommendations on where to begin as you start your college application prep. Just breathe deep and take it one step at a time.

  • Finalize your college list. Visit the website (or better yet, visit us in person), do your homework, and don’t be afraid to take a wrong turn – you never know where it might lead you! With over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, it can be difficult to narrow it down. Take a moment to step back and think about what you value in a college experience. Write it down, keep the list nearby, and as you continue your college search this summer, see how schools measure up.

  • Study for the SAT and ACT. In light of the unique circumstances facing high school students following the global pandemic, Richmond will offer a test-optional pathway for first-year students entering in fall 2022. But if you do plan to test, know that we will super-score both the SAT and the ACT exams. That means we’ll take your highest score from exams taken on different dates. The silver lining? Extra time to prepare! You can always check out the upcoming test dates for the SAT or ACT to plan your study schedule well in advance.

  • Write your Common App or Coalition App essays. Stay tuned for more essay-writing advice this summer and fall – including a virtual workshop with our admission officers. In the meantime, check out some of our favorite tips and tricks for tackling those essay questions.

  • Line up your recommenders. You’d be surprised how often teachers are overwhelmed with last-minute recommendation requests. Our advice? Cut the crowd and ask early. While only one recommendation is required, you can submit up to three. We want to get a full picture of who you are, so why not ask people who can showcase that across different spectrums of your life? Think about recommenders who know you from different vantage points, spend some time chatting with them, and keep in touch over the summer. Their letter will likely be more thorough and genuine as a result.

  • Have fun! We can’t overstate this enough. The college application process can be overwhelming, so take a step back sometimes to keep things in perspective. And rest assured, we are here to help you through this journey. And if your path leads you to Richmond, keep in mind our first app deadline for Early Action and Early Decision I is November 1. Here’s a timeline to keep you on track!