Who is a Rising Senior?
The term "rising senior" is commonly used in the United States to refer to a high school student who has completed their junior year and is about to enter their senior year. It signifies the transition from being a junior to becoming a senior. In other words the person in question is in between grades, but that senior will be the next applicable one.
Thus, “rising senior” is widely used to describe students who are entering their last year of high school. While the term may not be familiar to everyone, it is a well-established term in the U.S. educational context.
What is the difference between a senior and a rising senior?
Note that a "rising senior" is about to enter their senior year. On the other hand, the term "senior" typically refers to a student who is already in their final year of high school. Thus a student can be a "rising senior" for only a short period of time, typically the period during the summer before their senior year begins.
How do colleges view rising seniors differently from seniors?
The rising senior period is significant as it signifies the transition from being an underclassman to a leader within the academic community, and it is a time when students face a unique blend of opportunities, challenges, and milestones that will shape their future. In the college admissions process, students are often evaluated based on their academic performance and extracurricular activities up to the end of their junior year, and possibly including the summer before their senior year Therefore, colleges typically consider the achievements and progress of applicants up to (and including) the point when they are rising seniors. On the other hand, "seniors" are students already their final year of high school, and would have typically submitted their applications by that point.
What should I do in the summer while I am a rising senior?
Great question! During the summer as a rising senior, there are several productive activities you can consider to prepare for the college application process. Some of the recommended activities are covered below.
Complete your Common Application
Start working on your Common Application, which is accepted by hundreds of colleges. If you plan to apply to colleges that do not accept the Common App, such as the University of California system schools, you can work on their applications as well.
Write your Common Application personal essay
Preparing a personal essay in advance can save you a lot of stress during the senior year and allow you to focus on studies and extracurricular activities.
Collect reference letters
Reach out to junior year teachers for reference letters, as they usually appreciate having extra time over the summer to write a reference when the memory of your achievements is fresh.
Visit (or plan to visit) campuses
Use the summer to visit college campuses, as it's a time when high school students are free and parents' schedules are usually more flexible.
Develop a preliminary list of colleges
Review college websites, guides, and student review sites to create a balanced list of colleges to consider, including target schools, reaches, and 'likelies'.
Participate in interesting activities
Engage in internships, volunteer work, clubs, or paid positions related to your interests. This can be productive and creative, and it's a good way to explore potential careers and stand out in college applications.
In addition to the above, you can also consider taking college classes if you are sure of your major and the types of colleges you are applying to (and their expectations of incoming freshmen).