Photos of teenagers on a beach by a bonfire by Photo by Ball Park Brand on Unsplash
Ah, summer days. Can you believe it's already July? If you have not taken some time to relax from finishing the school year, now is the time to enjoy a much-needed break before your entire focus goes to applying to schools or starting college this fall.
“The first thing I tell all my students to do in the summer is to take some time off — a few days or a few weeks — to relax," says Laurie Kopp Weingarten, co-founder of One Stop College Counseling in New Jersey. “They should congratulate themselves for working hard and completing another academic year successfully."
But even though we are in the lazy days of the most anticipated season all year that beckons us with beaches, bikes and lemonade, it is a good time to make sure that your college admissions plan is still on track.
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- Do your assigned summer reading, but try to enjoy it! “Summer reading isn't busy work; schools assign it for a reason," says Lisa Sohmer, an independent college counselor in Palm Springs, Calif. "Reading books for the upcoming school year keeps students in the habit of thinking analytically and managing their time."
- Try something new. “Create something, lead an activity or pursue a new interest," Weingarten says.
- Double check your courses for the upcoming academic year. Make sure you're not missing any core courses required for college admission.
- Think about the extracurricular activities you might want to participate in during high school. You might consider talking to older students who can give advice about which activities they enjoyed to explore ideas of clubs, sports and arts options — and the time commitment involved in each of them.
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- Plan college visits. “The biggest advice we give students is to visit colleges over the summer -- it is never too early to start," says Brenda Poznanski, director of school counseling and admission at Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, N.H. “A big trip does not need to be planned for the younger students. They can go to colleges fairly local, but when the student plans to visit, he or she should be sure to visit a large, medium and small school to offer different perspectives on campus size."
- Continue exploring careers and possible majors. If you are still thinking about possible college majors, spend some time considering careers and come up with a final list of majors you may be interested in to discuss with your counselor in the fall during admissions season.
- Register for admissions tests. If you have not registered for the SAT or ACT, register by the deadlines.
- Make a plan to study for standardized tests over the next few months and start studying this month!
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- Try to visit as many colleges you're interested in as possible, especially the colleges further from home. “Students heading into senior year may want to be more directed in their visits — maybe go to the far-away college because the family has more time," says Poznanski. “The school year gets very busy and the summer gives the student time to process the visit."
- Finalize your college list, especially if you plan to apply Early Action or Early Decision.
- Review the common app essay prompts, and start to work on your college essay.
- Consider an internship or a summer job, especially one that might be related to a future career.
- Volunteer with an organization or cause that is meaningful to you.
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- Show gratitude. “Thank teachers who wrote you college recommendations as well as scholarship providers," says Jill Madenberg, principal at Madenberg College Consulting in Lake Success, N.Y., and co-author of Love the Journey to College.
- Check with campus housing about your roommate assignment and get in touch with your roommate about which items each of you will contribute to your dorm room, if you are living on campus.
- Make a list of items you need to buy for college, and buy them! Investigate when the sales are in your area for dorm room items and make a note of those dates on your calendar to shop for the best deals.
- Submit all health forms to your college.
- If you are playing sports in college, contact coaches to obtain any last-minute items you need to submit and confirm practice schedules, as well as the date you should arrive on campus.
- Confirm the date you should arrive on campus for orientation.
And the 1 Thing Everybody Should Do This Summer
“Students and parents should not over-think or over-do over the summer — students and parents need to rest, relax and rejuvenate over the summer," says Poznanski. “The fall will be super busy for all. If they are over-tired and already sick of the process, it will be torture as they go through it."
So, stay on track for college, but don't forget to rest and relax and enjoy some summer days to gear up for a busy fall!
A version of this article originally appeared on College Confidential in July 2019