Most students look forward to the summer months when they are free from homework, tests and other school obligations. It’s a time to let loose and have a little fun, but for those who are incoming seniors, the next few months are also an important part of the college planning process. Instead of hitting the beach or sleeping in, students should be using this time to review their college plan and prepare for the upcoming school year. Although it may not be as exciting as a cruise or a trip to Disney World, this summer checklist will give rising seniors plenty to keep them busy over the next few months.
1. Visit Colleges
Although it is better to tour campuses during the spring or fall semesters, when more students are in attendance, students can still get a feel for potential colleges and help narrow their choices by stopping by during the summer session. Some colleges even offer students the opportunity to participate in an overnight visit and schedule interviews during summer hours. The relaxed atmosphere may also make students feel more at ease and allow them to be more social with those on campus. Since most colleges have reduced office hours and smaller staffs during the summer semester, students should always check websites and call to verify the availability of tours, interviews and other services before making any plans.
2. Work on the Common Application Essay
The essay is a very important piece of the college admissions puzzle; students should not wait until the last minute to write it. Right now, students are not bogged down with homework and other distractions, so it’s the perfect time to play around with the various topics and determine which one is the better fit. For those students who need a little help, several online tools can make drafting college admissions essays a little easier. Once school is back in session, students should have their teachers and other mentors review their work prior to submitting it with their college applications.
3. Prepare for the SAT and ACT
If students have not taken the college entrance exams during their junior year, they will be expected to take them in the fall. Students should check with the colleges on their short list to verify which exams are required and the deadline dates for college applications to determine when to register for each (or both). Over the summer, students should be using their spare time to prepare for the exams by using several of the free resources available or picking up a copy of the study guides at their local library. Students can also purchase used editions through Amazon and other textbook websites.
Many high schools now require students to meet certain community service hours prior to graduation. It can be difficult to find the time during school, especially if students are involved with sports and other extracurricular activities, so the summer is a great time to rack up some hours. Volunteering also gives students the opportunity to learn new skills, take on leadership roles, and build valuable connections.
5. Search for Scholarships
Many students make the mistake of waiting until spring of their senior year to start looking for scholarships. Although the majority of awards are open in the fall and early spring, the summer still provides plenty of opportunities for students to earn free money for college. Students should register with a free, online scholarship search service to help find awards that match their needs and skills, as well as searching Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest and other social media platforms for available programs.
Senior year can be one of the most stressful for students, but they can ease the pressure by starting on many of their tasks this summer. There will still be plenty of time to hang with friends and have some fun; it just takes a few hours each week to start checking off the tasks on this to-do list. By the time September rolls around and school is back in session, those who dedicated a little time over the summer will be ahead of the game and hopefully find themselves at the top of the college admissions acceptance list.
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