Part of the reason is practical. Organizing the college application earlier than the summer before the Senior year could mean unnecessary work. The student will find no benefit in creating the academic resume before their Junior year, and it’s entirely possible that the prompts for the essays they write that summer could completely change for the summer before their Senior year.
The other reason is less tangible. Rising Juniors are rightly focused on what will likely be their toughest year of school. College applications still feel an eternity away when they’re concentrating on summer reading assignments for AP Language and Composition. In addition, they’re going to have a set of life experiences during that school year that will bring them to a different level of maturity. Perhaps most importantly, they won’t have the opportunity to develop relationships with the teachers they’ll be asking for letters of recommendations, most of which will be Junior year teachers.
In short, any summer earlier than the one before the Senior year is too early. Focus on academics and life experiences. They’ll have plenty of time to get their college applications ready, especially if they sign up for The College Prep Camp.
Can’t students do this work on their own?
We get this question a lot. After all, most of today’s parents wrote their college applications on their own. Why can’t the students?
Between 2001 and 2017, the number of applications increased from a little over 4.5 million to about 10.5 million. That’s a 130% increase. During that same time, enrollments went from just under 1.2 million to about 1.6 million.
In other words, in 2001 colleges received an average of 3.75 applications per applicant. In 2017, it was about 6.5. And that’s an average. Selective schools have seen their acceptance rates plunge as it has become easier to apply to them. Their response has been to ask for more information in order to sift through the growing number.
Comparing the applications students have to complete today to what their parents did is a lot like comparing working on a car from 30 years ago. Back then most people changed their own oil and we bragged that keeping the car running just took bailing wire and duct tape. Changing the air filter on one of today’s high performance engines feels like a major undertaking.
Our camp directors and writing coaches have helped hundreds of students with the process and can make completing their applications a much more efficient process than if they were working on it on their own.
Isn’t this something the schools should be doing?
Given the demands on today’s public schools, it would be impossible for schools to recreate what we’re able to do in The College Prep Camp over the same time period.
In The College Prep Camp, students work in a 6:1 student-teacher ratio with expert writing coaches. English teachers helping students with their college essays are usually teaching 120 to 150 students in today’s classrooms. Even if the school has creative scheduling, the teacher likely has 75 students on their rolls. Our ratio is more than 10 times better.
Counselors typically have over 500 students they’re responsible for those. 25-33% of those might be Seniors. That could be 125 to 165 students. It’s impossible for them to recreate the close work we’re able to do with students.
Do we need this if we’re going to state schools? This seems like something for students looking at Ivy League schools.
The two most common applications our students use are The Common App and Apply Texas. To meet those application requirements, students will need to complete the demographic portions (name, address, etc.), the academic record portions (classes, extracurricular activities, community service), and at least one essay (typically 2 or more).
Some schools have their own applications, and some of those applications do not require essays. However, those schools are very rare. If a student’s entire college list is made up only of those schools, then they likely do not need The College Prep Camp. Coincidentally, those students are also very rare.
Most students could benefit from the process of completing their applications while working closely with an expert. They can also gain insight into other colleges they hadn’t considered that might fit what they’re looking for even better than the schools already on their list.
The College Prep Camp developed from a program Shane Bybee started in 2014. We've been able to work with almost a thousand students to create a college application that helps them achieve their college goals.