Summer is a wonderful time of year and a time we look forward to all year long. It is a time for relaxation, vacation, and free time. But, rising high school seniors can also take advantage of their time off by getting ready for college. Senior year will be busy. In addition to regular schoolwork, seniors will be putting a lot of their focus on college. To ease some of the craziness of senior year, rising seniors should consider doing some of their college prep during the summer. Here are ten things rising seniors can do during the summer to prep for college.
- Create your college list. The summer is a great time to continue your college search and finalize your college list. Dig in and do your research into the colleges you are considering. If you are just starting your college search, get to know yourself and what is important to you when choosing a college.
- Discuss finances. The out-of-pocket cost of attend college is probably one of the biggest factors when choosing a college for many students. Sit down with your parents or guardians to discuss how much your family can afford. Learn about your possible Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Although you will not be able to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) until October, you can fill out the FAFSA4Caster now to get an idea about your EFC. As you are researching colleges, make sure to check out the Net Price Calculators to learn about the possible financial aid you will receive if you were to attend the college.
- Connect with colleges. Sign up for the college mailing lists to get further information about the institutions. You may also consider following the colleges you are considering on social media to get a feel for the personality of the college. And, if you have not visited already, visit the colleges you are considering. In addition to learning more about the colleges, all of your activities will demonstrate your interest in the institution and demonstrated interest might come into play when institutions are making admissions decisions.
- Save money. Unfortunately, most students will have to pay something out-of-pocket for college. If you have not secured a summer job, consider looking for a summer job. Not only will you learn many valuable skills, you will be able to save a little money for college.
- Gain experience. A summer job is a great way to gain experience. Not only will you learn the job you are doing, you will also learn other valuable skills such as customer service and working with different personalities. An internship can be a great opportunity to explore the career you are considering. Volunteering is also a great way to spend your free time. Any or all of these activities can be great experience for students and can be interesting things to share on your college applications.
- Clean up social media. There is always a story every year about a student who had their admission rescinded from a college because of something that was found on social media. While these examples are few and far between, it does happen. Scholarship providers and employers may also review social media before making decisions. Review your social media presence and make sure you are proud of everything that is posted.
- Create your brag sheet. Brag sheets or resumes are a great way for you to put together all of your accomplishments and activities. You might consider giving your recommendation writers your brag sheet to help them as they are writing their recommendation letters. Colleges may also allow students to submit resumes along with their applications.
- Start your college essays. While college applications may not be available yet, many admission essay prompts have been announced. Start brainstorming and writing your college essays. Starting early will allow you to take your time as you craft your essay and produce something that will help you stand out from the crowd.
- Test prep. If you have not taken the SAT or ACT yet, or would like to improve your scores, do some test prep before taking the test in the fall. In addition to paid test prep companies, there are also many free test prep resources available online.
- Apply for scholarships. Outside scholarships can really help students play for college. Now that you are not in class during the day, you will have extra time to look for and apply for scholarship. In addition to the scholarships with summer deadlines, look ahead to scholarships open later in the year. Make an action plan to dedicate some time every week for scholarships.
Take time this summer to check off some of your college admission tasks.
originally published in JVL counseling