April To-Do List for Juniors Working to Get Into their Dream College

Don't let the outside world derail you
April 1, 2020

Whoa. The world has turned upside, yes? Does that mean you should simply abandon all the work you’ve been doing to get into your dream college?


We’ve already given you a basic outline for what you can do while the coronavirus keeps you at home. Plus you can also catch up on what we suggested you do in January, February, and March.

  • Do your schoolwork so you finish the year strong. Of course it will be challenging to do your schoolwork remotely. But you can do it. Really. Here are the keys: first, make a schedule and stick to it. That’s what you have to do in college, when you are in charge of the vast majority of your time. So you just get  to practice that in advance. Second, beef up your skills at being an autodidact. What? What’s an autodidact? An autodidact is a self-taught person.  We’ll have a blog post soon about some tips for teaching yourself. In the meantime, get your schedule up and running and do whatever assignments your teachers give you. Your final grades will matter, so put yourself on track for the end-of-year grades you want.

  • Dial back, but don’t give up, practicing for standardized tests. Sure, it is unclear when you’ll take these tests and it likely won’t be until the summer, but you want to keep up your skills. So slot in 15-20 minutes of practice on the standardized tests on every school day. If you know that you really need work on a particular type of question or section of the test, then devote more time to that now.

  • Be creative about activities. Group-based activities are not happening, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something meaningful while these things are on hiatus. Devote time to a solo hobby, help your parents manage the household (maybe you could cook meals, clean, or occupy a younger sibling) or find a way to do some community service (shop for and deliver groceries to a family who is quarantined or self-isolated, make calls to the elderly to make sure they are okay, etc.). Admissions officers will look favorably on those who were productive despite these unusual constraints. Plus, you will get bored and depressed if you do nothing but stare at a screen!

  • Do write your story and your resume.
  • Do create accounts on both the Common App and the Coalition App and fill in the basics about yourself because that stuff will rollover into your account for next year. (But don’t insert essays or anything like that because they will be wiped when they load next year’s applications.)
  • Don't write your primary personal statement or essay – it will go stale over the next 5 months
  • Don’t write your primary personal statement or essay – it will go stale over the next 5 months.
  • Do draft Why College X essays or Why Major X essays. Even if the colleges on your list don’t have these essays on their application, they are worthwhile to draft because they will help you clarify your thinking about your college list and your possible major. Also, it will give you a potential supplemental essay to submit and help you prep for interviews. Plus — biggest bonus of all — you’ll have a ready answer to these questions, which all the adults in your life will invariably ask you!
  • Do get started on any portfolios or other artistic supplements if you will be submitting them.

Anna Ivey is one of the founders of Inline. An experienced admissions consultant and a frequently cited media expert on the topic of college admissions, she is also co-author of the college admissions bible How to Prepare a Standout College Application. Learn more about Anna's background here.

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