Finals are wrapping up and summer is calling. But for high school juniors, the steps taken in the summer before their senior year can make the last push before college that much easier (or harder). It’s not an exaggeration to say that this summer is vital for those students who want to be ready for their life after high school.
In between the sun and the fun, here are 8 things that will get students ready for their senior year:
- Land a job or internship: There’s a reason this is at the top of the list. College admissions staff want to see students who are involved and interested in their community. And there’s no better way to show that then by actually getting involved with a job, internship or other kind of volunteer work. Double points for working with an organization that reflects a student’s academic or personal passions. Not only will that show dedication and a good work ethic, but also reflect what makes that student unique to grab the attention of college admissions boards. The extra pocket change of a job doesn’t hurt in the summer, either.
- Narrow down the college list: Many students should have a list of schools or options after high school that spark their interest. Now it’s time to get a little more serious and start whittling down the list. By taking the time to narrow the focus of schools now, students can more easily create a strategy for applications.
- Discuss finances and plan accordingly: Part of a good college fit will be how financial aid and finances play into the future. Talking with the family, and having honest discussions about what will be needed to pay for college, will help everyone prepare for such things as completing the FAFSA, looking into scholarships and grants and speaking with the financial aid department at possible schools.
- Start the early drafts of application essays: Not even Shakespeare nailed it on the first draft. A student’s application essay will be their calling card on college applications. Working out those first drafts will be easier in the summer, without the pressure of schoolwork or other demands. Get a version down on paper and then work with a parent, mentor or counselor to start tweaking it into greatness.
- Complete the Common Application: If a student already has certain schools in mind that use the Common Application, keeping August 1 on their calendar (when the Common Application becomes available) will allow them to get a jump on the process.
- Make an application game plan: With many admissions options available to students, including Early Action, Rolling Admission, Early Decision and Regular Decision, it’s important to prepare an application strategy for each school. Make a calendar and mark each deadline for schools for which students will apply, as well as transcript and recommendation deadlines.
- Plan college trips and schedule interviews: One of the benefits of early preparation is having the time to visit schools and interview with staff at schools in which students are interested. Families taking summer vacations might even consider working a campus trip into the itinerary. Make sure to check with those colleges on a short list if they offer interviews for prospective students, and take advantage of the ones that do. Even if just taking a campus tour, being on campus will offer a great way to learn more about the school and whether it fits a student’s plans. Plus, taking active steps to meet with college staff shows an interest, which can help when applications come around.
- Plan for testing and start prepping: Whether students will be taking the ACT, SAT or Subject Tests, it’s important to get test dates on a calendar and start prepping, be it in class, online or with other study materials.