The Foreign Service Journal, June 2020

54 JUNE 2020 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT R ight now, halfway around the globe, an American high school junior is gear- ing up for the U.S. college admissions process. Let’s give her the way-too- peppy name of Rachel Resilient. Rachel isn’t sure what she wants to major in, but she’s interested in history, psychology and biology. Since her parents have established residency in Virginia*, she will apply to state institutions, such as the University of Virginia (UVA), William & Mary and George Mason University. She has close relatives in the New York area, so she’s added New York University, Barnard, and Drew University in New Jersey. And, although she’s never visited the campus, she’s included the University of Michigan, as well as two small Midwest liberal arts colleges that are gener- ous with financial aid: Knox College in June 29-July 4: List all essays and due dates, group essays with similar prompts, and brainstorm topics (1 week). July 5-18: Write main essay (almost 2 weeks). July 19-Aug. 3: Vacation (2+ weeks). Aug. 4-23: Write supplemental essays (almost 3 weeks). Aug. 24: Start of school. Notice that the supplemental essays are last on her to-do list. That’s because while all her colleges require a main essay, not all require supplemental essays. But there’s another reason to leave these until the end of summer: colleges may not post their supplemental essay prompts until August. (That said, many will stay the same for 2020-2021, including the Common Application main essay prompts.) Can she do it? Gathering the Necessary Information Rachel takes a few days to relax after completing 11th grade before creating a spreadsheet listing her colleges. She then uses both the Common App and individ- ual colleges’ websites to find guidelines, deadlines and essay prompts. If Rachel has established a relationship with a college admissions representative, she Illinois, offering a high percentage of international students, and Denison Uni- versity in Ohio, her mom’s alma mater. Her counselor also suggests the University of Mary Washington, another Virginia public school, because it’s close to D.C. and requires no supplemental essays. Rachel adds it to her list. Rachel has set a lofty goal: to finish all her college admissions essays by the end of summer. Taking time off for a two-week trip to the States, that gives her roughly six weeks to write—not a lot of time when applying to 10 colleges. Rachel’s counselor has urged students to break the process down into steps and then calendarize those steps. And, most important, com- plete the tasks written in the calendar! First, Rachel makes a list of the tasks in the order in which she will accomplish them. Then she counts backward on her calendar from the start of senior year. She ends up with this: Get a jump start on a critical part of the college application process. BY FRANCESCA KE L LY Can You Really Write All of Your College Application Essays Over the Summer? *Please review state laws regarding residency for Foreign Service families that have been posted overseas. Some states make it difficult for nonresidents to qualify for in-state tuition, even if they own property and pay taxes there. It is wise to determine eligibility well before the college application process. Francesca Huemer Kelly, the spouse of a retired Foreign Service officer and am- bassador, counsels students on their college application essays through www. A freelance writer, co-founder of the website Tales from a Small Planet and former editor of AFSA News, she also has served as a college counselor at two international schools.