Summer

How to Make the Most of Summer to Prep for College Admissions

It’s late May, which means summer vacation is right around the corner for millions of high school students like you. As both a former student and teacher, I remember those days fondly. It was like the light at the end of the tunnel. Just hang on a little longer and I’d be rewarded with nine glorious weeks off.

Yes, I expect you to use this upcoming summer break to get a little R&R. However, if you’re a rising high school sophomore, junior, or senior, I encourage you to spend a little time over the following weeks to prepare for college admissions.

That said, let’s dive into what you can do to make the most of this summer while still leaving you plenty of time to relax.   

If You’re a Rising Sophomore

Now that you’ve completed freshman year, you should have a decent understanding of your academic strengths and weaknesses. You also (hopefully) found at least one extracurricular activity that you enjoy. Let’s turn this new knowledge into an action plan.

What You Should Do

  • If struggled with English or math your freshman year, spend 2-3 hours a week reviewing lessons on Khan Academy. Using Khan Academy or a similar service will both improve your English/math skills and prevent you from forgetting what you learned.
    • If your parents can afford a tutor, that works, too. 🙂
  • Spend about 7-10 hours over the summer researching colleges online. Here are some potential Google searches:
    • Colleges that have strong [Insert the name of your favorite subject here] programs.
    • Community colleges in [your state].
    • Best public colleges in [your state].
    • Colleges that award scholarship for [your extracurricular activity/high GPAs/good test scores].
  • As you research potential schools, you’ll notice that a lot of them come with big price tags. Talk to your families about what the can/will contribute to your college education.

What You Could Do 

  • As you’ll take either the PLAN or PSAT test during your sophomore year, you need to decide whether you are going to prepare for either test. Many students take these tests ‘cold’ so they can understand their natural strengths and weaknesses. This is fine, but if you are aiming for a National Merit Scholarship, you’ll need to put in some PSAT prep.

If You’re a Rising Junior

Becoming a junior is a big deal. You’re an upperclassman now, and college is just two years away. This summer you’ll need to take a more active role in preparing for your future. 

What You Should Do

  • Go on at least two college tours.
    • By researching colleges online, you should know already have a few that interest you. It’s time to hit the road with the family and see these colleges up close.
  • Decide whether to prepare for the ACT or SAT.
    • You’ll likely take both of these tests during your college admissions journey. However, as many students discover that perform slightly better on one test over the other.
  • Curate scholarship opportunities.
    • Continue your research from last summer and select 5-10 scholarships that you can apply to now or when you become a senior.
          • Although application deadlines might not be for another year, researching now means that you still have time to improve your grades/increase your volunteer hours/etc.
  • Sign up for challenging classes.
    • No, I don’t mean ‘take all AP courses.’ Yes, for some students, that’s challenging. For others, it’s a recipe for burnout/failure/etc. You need to choose a curriculum that’s challenging for you.
    • In other words, if you made an A in a non-honors course, consider taking the honors course in that same subject area as a junior.
      • The same advice applies if you did well in honors courses as a sophomore. Maybe it’s time to take 1-2 APs your junior year. 

What You Could Do

  • Take an ACT or SAT prep course.
    • Standardized tests like the ACT and SAT are a milestone for high school juniors. By preparing for these tests now, you might earn a good enough score that you do not have to retake them later.
  • Intern or volunteer.
    • There are plenty of internship or volunteer opportunities in your local community. Find one that represents a cause or issue you believe in and spend 5-10 hours each week interning or volunteering. 

If You’re a Rising Senior

College admissions season is coming up fast, which means that this summer you’ll decide which colleges you’ll apply to in the fall. The following advice should help you make up your mind and put the final touches on your application packets.

What You Should Do

  • Take additional college tours.
  • Prepare to retake the ACT or SAT.
    • You took one or both of these tests during the spring. Now that you have the results, you can create a study plan that involves tutors or free Khan Academy resources.
    • I’d recommend spending 1-2 hours a week on test prep. This way, you can retake the ACT or SAT in late August or early September. These test windows are excellent as you’ll have your results in hand before college applications are due. 

What You Could Do 

  • Start application essays.
    • It’s never too early to start your application essays. See my article on the topic for more information.
  • Keep interning or volunteering.
    • If you interned of volunteered last summer, keep up the good work by trying a new experience this summer.

Final Thoughts

Summer is a great time to relax. By all means, stay up late, sleep in, and have a good time with your friends. But remember that time is a resource like any other. This summer, invest some time in your future by preparing for life after high school. Future you will thank present you.

 

Is It Too Soon to Start Planing for Summer?

It’s not even January and I have to think about summer?

Yep, now is the time. Especially if you have a high school student and they are planning on attending an academic summer program because applications will be due soon. And from my research, I’ve learned that colleges really look at what students do the summer between junior and senior year.

What if you also have a college student. How will they plan their summer? A  college class? Travel abroad? A summer job? And what happens to their dorm room? Most colleges close the dorms to college students during the summer, so they will have to move out and perhaps back home. Is their room ready or have you already turned it into a sewing room? Or has their younger sibling taken it over?

And what about family vacations?

I remember vividly my friend Jenny, who had her kids a lot earlier than I did, lamenting when they were in high school that there were only so many family vacations left. Her words are ringing true as I realize my kids will be in opposite directions very soon.

Gone are the days when both my children are at the same school with the same summer schedule. If you have kids in college and high school then I’d plug in the summer vacation dates now for both. Does your college student start back early August, but your high schooler begins after Labor Day? You might want to know that now as well.

How about college tours? Will you be taking those with your high school junior or senior? Will your college student want to attend those with you? Can you combine college tours with a family vacation?

This is all overwhelming as I try to coordinate college tours, summer academic programs, summer jobs, and a family vacation. Not to mention the cost as college payments are just around the corner. I’ve never been really good at planning so far ahead, but I see the benefits.

So during the upcoming holiday week, I will sit down with my family and try to sort all this out. Perhaps we can come up with a summer plan that suits everyone. Or maybe everyone will just want to stay at home this summer, as it might be one of the last ones at home where we can be altogether as a family.

Do Scholarship Programs Like FastWeb Really Pay Off?

With college prices soaring into the $70K range any bit of scholarship money can help. I’ve been exploring several online scholarship programs and wondering if they work. About a year ago I signed up for FastWeb.com. By plugging in a series of details about my daughter’s interest and talents, an algorithm generated a list of matches for independent scholarships. Many were state or city related and they ranged between $250- $10,000. Every day for a year I have received an email from Fastweb informing me about the many scholarship programs my daughter may qualify for.

In most cases, the scholarships required some work from my daughter in terms of an essay or short paragraph. For example, there is a National Rice Scholarship contest that is given to a student who resides in a state where rice is produced, California being one of them so my daughter qualified. In order for her to win, she’d have to write an essay about how rice was important to her life. She laughed at me when I suggested she write about her Japanese class in middle school making omusubi weekly for school lunches. She had no desire to write that essay, but more to the point, she really didn’t have time. She’d spent the year writing essays and supplemental essays for college applications plus all the essays for school. The last thing she felt she could do, was write about rice.

I was overwhelmed as well with the college application process and found myself ignoring these emails. I learned that thousands of kids would be applying for each scholarship so her chances were slim. Many of the scholarships were from corporations like Coca-Cola. Local Rotary clubs offered sponsorships too, but she had no direct connection to them. I did get my daughter to apply to one scholarship from a car company that offered $1000 for a photo with a car and a story. Since my daughter’s middle name is Lark, after the Lark Studebaker, we took a shot at that and sent in a photo and story. We never heard back, not even a generic reply.

Now that it’s summer and exams and essays are over, I am starting to open those emails from FastWeb and encourage her to apply for some small scholarships. Any bit will help to buy books or towards trips home. I’ve also learned about myscholly.com, another scholarship search tool.

It all comes down to time and money. The more time we put into seeking out scholarships, the more they might pay out. For parents with younger students, I’d suggest familiarizing yourself with scholarship searches and maybe prep your child for a couple. Have them start thinking now about how rice is important in their life.

A Tour of Freshman Summer Reading from Various Colleges and Universities

Since my kids were in middle school, I made a point to read each book that their teachers assigned. I liked to discuss the books at dinner and I was always curious about a book I hadn’t read. Julie of the Wolves byJean Craighead George was a surprise to me and sticks with me to this day. Learning about wolf packs from the POV of the wolf was something I could only get from this middle grade reader. Once in a while I’d read a book that seemed inappropriate like when Sold by Patricia McCormick was assigned to my sixth grader. Luckily, some of the other parents in the class felt the same way and we were able to discuss our concerns with the teacher before the students took it on themselves.

Summer reading in high school introduced me to some great reads like the tenth grade assignment of Americana by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which my son is reading now. And everyone should have the pleasure of reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon  that was assigned to both my kids the summer before ninth grade.

A year ago I read a NYT article about summer reading for college freshman around the country. I was excited to see that summer reading would not go away once college began. I don’t remember being assigned books in summer. Keeping up with the books on this NYT article was a way for me to find books of interest that were contemporary and I was excited to find my daughter assigned two books this summer by her college: Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera and Unflattening by Nick Sousanis. Sydney is loving Island of a Thousand Mirrors and I recently learned that Nayomi Munaweera tours hundred of colleges and will do a reading at my daughter’s school in the fall.

Among the schools asking students to read specific books this summer, I’ve found the following:  UC Berkeley – Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (because she will be there in person at her keynote event on August 23); Bard College – Bacchae by Euripides; Wesleyan University – A Body, Undone: Living on After Great Pain by Christina Crosby; Lafayette College – Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.

I’m hoping my daughter will continue to share her reading list with me once she goes to college. It will give me some great reads as well as allowing me to have fun and intellectual discussions with her when she returns home. A shared interest in books can help keep us connected in a familiar way while she’s tucked away at in her new school and I am getting used to my empty nest.

Top Ten Summer Activities for Students

The final weeks of school can be so hectic that planning the following three months often comes as an afterthought. With assignments, tests and early bus rides behind them, students are left to wonder, “what should I do this summer?”

We have the answer. Here’s a list of the top ten ways that you should spend your time this summer.

 

Explore the Great Outdoors

With flourishing trees and fully blossomed flowers, it’s arguable that nature reaches its peak in the summer.  Getting outside and exploring its beauty is best done by taking the time to walk through and embrace it. You can even make a multi-day adventure out of hiking by pitching a tent with a few friends or family.

Camping is an excellent way to take advantage of the cool summer nights and maximize your time enjoying the country’s wildlife. From dazzling beaches to soaring mountains, dense forests to vast plains, the U.S. is full of beauty calling for you to explore. The National Park Service has some handy resources for locating parks and trails near you.

 

Escape the Heat and Take a Dip

In most areas of the country, the weather is only suitable for swimming for a short period of time. Take advantage of the warmth and sunshine by going for a dip in the oceans, rivers, lakes, swimming pools, water parks or whatever you have access to in your area. There is nothing more refreshing than wading in the water on a hot summer day.

With so many public access points at most bodies of water, there is no reason not to visit the thousands of water-spots in the country.

 

Become an Expert on History and Culture

Museums act as a window into places separated by time and location. They provide the tools to educate people on the history of our predecessors and the world’s intercultural development through the ages. From instructive science exhibits to experiential art displays, museums have a lot to offer for those with an open mind and a will to learn.

Make a day trip to a local museum or plan a vacation around seeing multiple exhibits across the country. If you’re on a tight budget, do not fret. There are loads of free museums just a google search away. Check out National Geographic’s list of 20 free U.S. museums that are worth checking out.

 

Witness the World’s Wildlife

America is home to some of the best zoos and aquariums in the world. When looking into visiting a zoo or aquarium, you must consider the quality of the establishment. It is no secret that sometimes these institutions do not uphold the best treatment for animals. Despite the negligent ones, there are several zoos that do a great job caring for their animals. Read more about how to identify a good zoo.

Once you weed out the bad zoos and aquariums in your own research, there is an immense amount that society can take away from the high quality ones. They help conserve the extensive list of species at risk of becoming extinct, provide an outlet for scientists and animal-life experts to conduct research, and educate the public about our planet’s wildlife.

Something to note is that if you research different zoos and aquariums in advance, you will most likely find some limited edition exhibits that pique your interest, so start planning today.

 

Earn Some Cash and Build Your Resume

With all of the spare time in the summer, getting a part-time job can never hurt. Whether you are saving up for college or earning some money to help fund your summer excursions, it is no doubt that the three month break from school is a wonderful opportunity to earn some extra cash.

Aside from the financial aspect of getting a job, it is never too early to start gaining work experience. There is something to learn from any job you have, no matter how simple it may seem. Some examples of part-time jobs good for high school students include lifeguarding, working as a cashier, host/hostessing at a restaurant, or being a camp counselor.

If you already have a pretty firm grasp on what you want to study in your post-secondary studies, the summer is perfect for seeking opportunities such as internships or specialty camps that provide insight into your desired field of study.

When looking for a job later down the line, it may be beneficial to prove to the potential employer that you had an early interest in the field and have several years of experience. Even if you are unsure of your interest, these programs can give you an idea of whether or not it is a profession that you would like to further consider.

 

Declutter and Dispose with a Garage Sale

Summer break is a time for not only cleansing your mind, but for purging unused or unwanted possessions. Whether you’re going off to college in the fall or simply need a fresh start, garage and yard sales are a great way for you to declutter your living space and get rid of those belongings that you haven’t touched in years.

If you’re having trouble getting this project rolling, let the thought of earning a few extra dollars motivate you. All you have to do to start is throw open your attic door, have two boxes labeled “Keep” and “Sell,” and get to sorting. Pick a day that works for you and list your yard sale in the appropriate classified sections of both Craigslist and your local newspaper.

People won’t know you’re selling all this great stuff if you don’t advertise the event. Whatever you don’t sell, you can donate to local charities or even friends and family.

 

Explore Yourself through Self Expression

Ever have a hairstyle or cool outfit you wanted to sport? With three months away from your peers and teachers, it’s your time to explore yourself without fear of judgement. Summer is the perfect opportunity for you to test out new ways of expressing yourself and find out just what it is you have to offer the world.

This doesn’t stop at your appearance. With your spare time, you can sign up for a dance class, learn an instrument, stylize your room, join a sports team and so much more. Live your best life this summer and have fun finding yourself.

 

Visit Places Only Your Imagination Can Take You

During the year, it can be difficult to read for leisure when you’re constantly bombarded with reading assignments at school. This summer, take the time to read something for yourself without any deadlines or papers in the mix.

You might be surprised where your imagination takes you and what you can learn from a good book. If you don’t know how to find the right book for you, join a local reading club or check TIME’s list of 100 best books for young adults.

 

Have Fun on the Fairgrounds

Carnival rides and fair food are the pinnacle of American culture. Each summer, people travel from surrounding towns to go to the nearest fairgrounds and come together for a celebration of life.

If you’re on social media, you most likely have seen Ferris wheels and funnel cake flood your Instagram feed when the season rolls around. The truth is, it’s usually as fun as the pictures suggest.

Many of these fairs offer petting zoos, games, rides and other festivities perfect for a day of fun with your family, friends, or romantic interest. Look up county and state fairs that are happening near you and start planning your visit today.

 

Put Others Before Yourself

Don’t feel bad if you’re spending your summer focusing on yourself, but if you have the time, you can do some work for others. Completing community service leaves you with a feeling of fulfillment and a sense of achievement.

You can always log your hours and add the experience to your resume. If you’re a college-bound teen, volunteering your time is a great way to stand out to college admissions counselors and show them your quality of character. Read more about why volunteering is a key component in the college admissions process.

The opportunities are endless when it comes to deciding how to spend your summer. No matter how you choose to spend it, the important part is that you have fun and stay safe. Be proactive and make the most of your time this summer.

Are Summer Programs Important for College Admissions?

My son’s college advisor told the sophomore class that what they do this summer will be looked at seriously by college admissions directors. Admissions directors see summer as a continuation of your student’s learning and expect them to take advantage of this time. So no lazy summers!

Colleges want to see that your student is either taking a summer course, doing an internship or has a summer job. I am happy to see three choices because summer courses can be expensive and not available to everyone. Most colleges and universities offer courses to high school students and allow them to stay in the dorms. NYU, for example, has a great selection of very appealing courses for high schoolers but they range from $3,000-$7,000 per student plus airfare and expenses. Sometimes junior colleges offer classes to high school students. The local JC in our area offer these classes for free.

Internships are a wonderful way for students to gain job experience as well as work in a field they are interested in. My daughter did an internship the summer before her senior year and her supervisor wound up writing a letter of recommendation for her college application. My daughter also found that on college interviews discussing her internships was a comfortable way to talk about herself and interests.

One thing I keep hearing from college counselors is that colleges want to see consistency. If your child goes the summer job route, then perhaps going back to that same place of employment each summer and maybe advancing in responsibilities or hours will show rigor and commitment.

If none of these options work for your child, if it’s too late to sign up for a course or maybe you are spending the summer with family out of state, then perhaps your student could write about their summer experience. Maybe they could blog about their experiences and their new environment. Or offer to write an article for the local newspaper. Even create a photography portfolio. Just see that they follow up the following summer, so when it comes time to apply to college, they will have a body of work to show.

Teenagers have lots of energy and when used wisely, they can produce a lot of great content. Sure they need to study for SAT’s but summer doesn’t have to be all about test prep, nor should it be. And a lazy afternoon once in awhile is probably a good idea too.

Juniors! Use Summer Break to Starting Writing Your College Essays

It’s May, which means the school year is winding down like a neglected grandfather clock. The days are warmer, the seconds seem to tick by slower, and the only reason high school students like you endure it at all is that summer break is just a few short days away.

For you juniors reading this article, the next few months will be your last summer break as a high school student. By all means, indulge in some rest and relaxation. However, if applying to college is on your radar, you need to set aside some time for activities that will increase your chances of college admission success. For some students, these proactive steps include college tours and retaking the SAT or ACT. These activities may also apply to you, too, but I want to discuss something else entirely: getting a head start on your college admissions essays.

Though I understand your distaste at the prospect of writing one or more essays over the summer, let me use this article to convince you that summer break is the perfect time to write the first draft.

Why Not Wait?

To be honest, I didn’t start writing my college admissions essays until the fall of my senior year. And as a result, they weren’t that great. To this day I still believe that the University of Chicago rejected my application due to my poor, hastily written essays. Also, admissions essays were just one of the dozens of things I was juggling that fall: AP/IB courses, ACT/SAT retakes, keeping everything organized, etc.

Learn from my mistake: start early. The more time you can commit to college application essays during the summer will translate into both better essays and a less stressful fall semester.

Distractions Are at a Minimum

Initially, I was going to write “There Are No Distractions,” but then I remembered that the summer break before senior year isn’t totally free: studying for ACT/SAT retakes, summer jobs, family vacations, etc. For some up-and-coming seniors, summer can feel just as busy as the school year.

Overall, you should have fewer distractions during the summer months. With less on your plate, you can dedicate not only time but also energy (and hopefully some passion, too) into writing the best first draft you can.

Just like with writing an academic essay, select a time and place that fits your writing style. If your room is too distracting, go to the library. If writing on the computer means that you’re tempted to go online or play games, use a paper and pencil for your first draft.

Review Your myKlovr Student Portfolio

The summer before your senior year is a great time to review your myKlovr student portfolio. Reading through your academic, extracurricular, and personal progress will help you brainstorm anecdotes that will eventually appear in your essay.

Begin the Editing Process

Let’s say you finish the first draft over the summer. First of all, that’s great! You’re already ahead of the game. Though I wouldn’t begrudge you if you decided to take the rest of the summer off, you may want to begin the editing process.

Here’s one thing you can try: email one or more of your teachers over the summer and see if they will critique your draft. As long as you’re polite, it never hurts to ask. Many teachers don’t check their email over the summer, which means you may not hear back. Please don’t feel offended if this happens to you.

Let’s say you get lucky and your teacher agrees. You’ve just won the lottery. Why? Just like you, your teachers aren’t as busy over summer break. They will be able to read your essay without a thousand other things vying for their attention. As a result, their feedback will likely be better than if you had asked for it after the school year begins.

Final Thoughts

Depending on the colleges where you will apply this fall, your essay ranks second or third in importance in your college application portfolio. Your words give college admissions counselors a personal view of you as an individual. By starting the writing process in the summer, you guarantee that your best self shines on the page.

You have Made Your College Decision. Now How Best to Spend the Summer.

May first is College Admissions Day and now finally parents and students should be able to breathe. What a tremendous year it’s been. I am exhausted. Between travel and financial aid forms and emotions and decisions, it’s taken the best of me. But now that the decision has been made and the deposit paid, I can start to feel myself relax. A bit. But what happens next? It’s finally time for our family to begin planning for the summer. Taking into consideration what date college begins and how much money we can afford to spend.

When I asked my daughter what she wanted to do this summer she spelled her answer, “R-E-L-A-X”. I can’t blame her. But she will also get a summer job, hopefully something she can enjoy and save some money. And a little travel. Her dad spent the year before he went to college reading, all day, every day. He hopes she’ll do the same.

But what other summer options are out there? Several colleges offer incoming students a chance to start school this summer to become acquainted with the campus and to take one or two classes. There are summer programs available in the arts and sciences. And I know some students who are going back to the summer camps they attended as kids as counselors.

One parent of a college freshman told me the other day to take the family on vacation and take lots of pictures, “this will be the last time you are all together.” But does it have to be so dramatic? I hope not. I hope we can still take family vacations together. And perhaps if our students spend a semester abroad we could meet up with them before they head back to the states.

It can be daunting to think that this is the last time our family will be altogether. But at least for the freshman year, I like to think of it as extended summer camp. They’ll go away for three months and come home, then away for another three months and come home. At least I’ll try to keep that analogy going as long as I can. But right now I am relieved that we know where our daughter will be in the fall and can focus on the present as long as it lasts.

Start Planning Summer College Tours Now

Are you a high school freshman, sophomore, or junior? If so, I bet you’re already looking forward to summer break. Do you have a summer job or internship lined up? Or maybe you’re going to be lounging by the pool or ocean. Either way, summer break is the perfect time for a few college tours with the family. And you know what, it never hurts to start planning for them in advance.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to plan your summer college tours depending on what grade you’re wrapping up this spring.

If You’re a Freshman

If you’re a freshman, you have a simple task: go on a single college tour.

Yep, that’s it. After all, as a freshman, college is still a long way off. At this point, it’s okay to have NO IDEA about where you want to go to college or what you want to study once you get there. So to simplify the process, choose a college within driving distance that you and your family can visit over summer break.

Researching which colleges to tour will also introduce you to many facets of the college experience. Here’s all the information you can learn from just a few minutes reading a college’s website:

  • Majors offered
  • Tuition
  • Housing

Learning about these (and more) topics for the first time will lead to more questions, but that’s okay. By familiarizing yourself now with the ins and outs of the college experience, you’ll be better prepared as the transition to college approaches.

On Your Tour

So it’s summer, and you and your family have arrived on campus. As an up-and-coming sophomore, all you should be doing is listening/taking mental notes. The other students on the tour will be older and might have very specific questions about the college. Pay attention to their questions and the answers they receive.

Since this is your first college tour, you may quickly realize that this particular college isn’t for you. That’s okay, too! The experience is still extremely valuable, however, as the tour will expose you to much about the college experience that is identical no matter where you eventually end up going.

If You’re a Sophomore

In the sophomore year, you take either the PLAN or PSAT to gauge your readiness for the ACT or SAT. The companies who make these tests sell your information to colleges across the nation. Depending on your scores, you may have received dozens of letters from colleges vying for your attention. With such a large stack of letters, it can be intimidating to sort through them all. Your job between now and summer break is to choose three colleges which you would like to tour.

Now that you’re halfway done with high school, you should have a firm grasp on which subjects you enjoy. While rifling through potential colleges, ask yourself some fundamental questions:

  • Which colleges have strong programs that align with my interests?
  • Do I want to be close to home or far away?
  • What can my family afford?

These questions should help you turn a long list of potential colleges into a manageable few. You are now ready to go on some tours.

On the Tours 

This summer, I want you asking questions (lots of them) on your college tours. If you’ve done your research, there is a good chance that one of the schools you visit this summer will be where you go to college. Here are some potential questions to get you started:

  • Can I sit in on a summer class?
  • What work opportunities exist on campus?
  • How does Greek life play a part in campus culture?

Also, while on the tour, imagine yourself spending four years on campus. In many ways, touring a college is like looking for a new home. Choosing a school that matches your personality will go a long way to encouraging your academic success.

If your family cannot afford to visit colleges that are far away, don’t worry. That’s why college websites exist. Also, if you have questions, call the admissions department. They will be happy to answer all of your questions.

If You’re a Junior

If you’re a junior, this is your last high school summer break. Before classes are back in session, you need to finalize your college list. Doing this may require an additional college visit or two. Why not more? Well, the summer break before senior year is one of your final chances to set yourself apart as a future applicant. Here are some examples:

  • Taking the ACT or SAT for the second time
  • Performing an internship (Or working at a job where you learn a vital skill)
  • Completing a volunteer project

There’s already a lot to do this summer, so I don’t want to overload you. One or two final college tours is more than enough.

On the Tours

As an up-and-coming senior, the purpose of your college tours should focus on answering vital questions you have about the school’s academic programs and how they can prepare you for your future. It’s alright if you don’t have a major picked out (remember that plenty of college students change their majors, too) but make sure the college has strong programs in two or more of your primary academic interests.

After a Tour

Before wrapping up, let’s discuss what to do at the end of a college tour. If you received permission to sit in on summer classes, that should be #1 on your list. After that, here are some ideas that will help you better get to know your potential home for the next four years:

  • Eat in the cafeteria with your family
  • Explore the library and lecture halls
  • Read the student newspaper
  • Take to some current students

In short, become an active observer.

Final Thoughts

Even with the internet and email, college tours are still an essential stepping stone between you and receiving a letter of acceptance from your dream school. Also, they are the rare occasion when colleges try to impress potential students (and not the other way around). So this summer, invest a little of your vacation time into planning for the future.

See you on campus!

Back to Top