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How to Prepare for College the Summer Before Senior Year

In high school, your final year will be the busiest thus far. You will have academics to wrap up, exams to take, and all the activities that go along with senior year. Between prom, graduation, filling out college applications, and more, you will be right out straight.

Preparing for college the summer before you begin school as a high school senior is a wise use of your time. While you don’t want to completely blow off all the fun and exciting activities you have planned with friends, it’s a good idea to get some college preparations underway.

In this article, we have seven handy tips to help you get ready now so you won’t be rushed or pressured when it comes time for deadlines.

1. Finalize Your College List

If you haven’t already, now is the time to finalize your college list. Your list should consist of 5-10 schools, with a mix of competitive schools, safety schools, and target schools. It will help if you consider questions such as:

●       Affordability: Will you be paying for your education with scholarships and financial aid? What can you and your parents realistically afford?

●       Campus Housing: Will you be getting on or off-campus housing?

●       Your Major: Does the school offer a top-notch program for the subject you want to pursue?

●       The Location: How far away from home will you be comfortable with?

●       Amenities: What on and off-campus amenities do you require? 

●       Extracurricular Activities: Are there extracurriculars you are really hoping to pursue during your four years at school?

●       Job Opportunities: Will you need to work during college? Are there enough job opportunities available on campus or in the town?

There are thousands of excellent colleges to choose from. They may not be big names like Princeton or Harvard, but that does not mean they are not the right choice for you. In some cases, you will be happier in the long run in a school that fits your personality and style.

Once you have your list narrowed down, find our when the application deadline is for each and mark them down, so you don’t miss out.

2. Compile Rough Drafts of Your College Essays

Many students dread college essays, but as long as you are prepared, there is truly nothing to stress over. If you are applying to a school that uses the common app, essay topics will be available to you on the website.

Although the majority of schools don’t release applications before August, most have prompts that are similar to those on the common app. This will allow you to start working on a rough draft during the summer. While you don’t need your final draft just yet, you can save yourself a lot of last-minute stress by getting a head start now.

Here are a few simple things to keep in mind:

●       Be authentic and talk about something important and meaningful to you.

●       Be detailed. The little things that stand out will ensure you create an essay unique to you

●       Avoid hot-button or political topics

●       Adhere to the word limits and makes sure your grammar is as accurate as possible. Use proofreading software as well as having a trusted adult look your essay over for you.

3. Build up Your Resume

This is your last summer to work on building up your college resume with extracurricular activities. If your portfolio is a little lean, consider taking the time to do one or more of the following activities:

•Volunteer on a project in your community

•Complete a summer internship

•Take some college-level classes

•Pursue a personal project that is not only important to you but will be noteworthy on your resume.

Colleges like to see a healthy mix of academic pursuits and extracurricular activities. Most importantly, they want students who are productive, forward-thinking, and who show initiative and willingness to get off the couch and participate in the world at large. 

4. Schedule College Visits

If you haven’t already, now is an excellent time to start visiting some of the schools you are interested in. While you won’t get the same experience you would get if the school was in session, you can at least use your time to narrow down your list.

Take a tour of the campus as well as the surrounding town. Talk to any students that are there during the summer, have a meal in the dining hall, and walk around to familiarize yourself with the overall atmosphere.

Try to picture yourself attending school on the campus next fall. Does the college have a good feel for you? Are there any personal obstacles or challenges that you will need to overcome to attend? Visiting in person is one of the best ways to make a rational decision about your final list of colleges.

5. Look Over Your SAT and Act Scores

If you have already taken the SAT or ACT tests, you should have your scores by now. You will want to assess them carefully to make sure you’ve done your absolute best. If you feel you could do better, you may want to consider retaking them in the fall so you will have the highest score possible to turn in with your applications.

6. Look Over Your Finances

Another way to prepare for college during the summer before your senior year is to begin considering finances for school. Summer is the ideal relaxed time to sit down with your parents and talk over any financial concerns you have.

You will want to find out what (if any) part of your college education your parents can afford and what you will be responsible for paying. If you need to get a part-time job during senior year, now is the ideal time to look for one. It is also a great time to start looking at scholarships and financial aid to see what is available for you.

7. List Your Activities

Hopefully, you have been keeping a list of your accomplishments, activities, and awards since freshman year. If not, however, then you should sit down and take a walk down memory lane.

Write down everything you have been doing for the previous three years of school. Don’t forget to include sports, clubs, leadership roles, organizations, and volunteer work. Include the dates you participated too.

If you have any awards or certificates, get them together in a folder and attach it to your activities list. Not only will making this list help you reflect on all you have accomplished, it can serve as a great prompt for an essay topic, Also, when it comes time to fill out applications, having this list in hand will make it easier.

Final Thoughts

If you want to make the most of your last summer of high school, take a little time to prepare for college. Your planning will help you avoid any unnecessary stress so you can focus on your grades throughout senior year.

It doesn’t have to be all drudgery and work, either. Tackle these tasks one at a time and take time in between for yourself. Spend time with friends, relax, and have fun. That’s what this time in your life is all about.

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