Summer Tips for High School Students

It’s summer!  Time to veg out, relax and let the stress of the school year wash away!


But also – there are definitely some things high schoolers can and should be doing over the summer that could take some pressure off during the school year.  Here are some tips for rising seniors, and some bonus tips for rising 10th and 11th graders:

Six Tips for Rising Seniors

Get a job!  Colleges really respect a teen who interacts in the real world.  Working gives you skills you’ll use in college – time management, working with colleagues and interfacing with people who aren’t in your immediate friend group.  You’ll earn a little extra cash for yourself, but you’ll also pick up some life lessons during the experience.

Or volunteer!  Better if it’s something related to the field you intend to study – but totally fine if you really just don’t know what you want to do.  Either way – find something near your home that you really care about, and you can devote a measurable amount of time to this summer.  Again, colleges respect students who are aware of their community surroundings and contribute to it in some way.

Narrow your college list.  Did we say narrow?  Actually – we meant make it bigger!  Instead of focusing on just the names you know (which often have low (LOW!!!) admit rates, broaden your search so we’re really looking for colleges where you’ll find everything you’re looking for, academically, socially and emotionally.  That should be your goal – to find a place that will support you in this next phase of your life.  This article from our blog archives should help you get started – and this piece from Georgia Tech’s Rick Clark should help you as well! 

How do you research colleges you don’t really know about?  Use this quick video as your guide.   

Start working on your college essays.  Depending on where you’ll be applying, you may have A LOT of essays – so you’ll want to get started asap!  None of us does our best work at the very last minute, and you know fall will be super busy as you get started with your senior (!) year!  Keep in mind that the essay writing process is a PROCESS – you aren’t going to write the final draft right away!  Here’s an article that breaks down the different phases of your essay writing process.  And here’s some advice from our friend Brennan Barnard, who writes about college admissions for Forbes Magazine.   

Set up a time to check in with your family about your college search.  One of the most stressful parts of the college search process for STUDENTS is that they sometimes feel like their parents or other relatives might ask questions at any given time, with no warning.  Where are you applying?  Have you asked your teachers for letters of recommendation yet?  Have you started your essays?  Can I read them?  These questions feel a little bit like an attack with no warning.  And sometimes PARENTS feel like students aren’t getting things done, or aren’t sharing important information with them.  If you set up a standing time to discuss the college process, everyone knows this is the time when we have this conversation – it will lower the temperature in your household, and lower everyone’s stress level.  It could be Sunday dinner, or Monday morning before you head off to work or school.  Choose a consistent time that works for everyone, and stick to this schedule.

Do something enriching!  Choose a few of the items on the image to the left – break out of your comfort zone and learn about something you don’t really know much about yet.  You might be surprised at your new interest!

Tips for Rising 10th and 11th Grade Students

Check out that image to the left – you can do some of those things as well!  Stepping out of your bubble will help you learn more about the world and possibly, your place in it!  Colleges love students who are aware of what’s going on in the world around them.

If you’re old enough to get a job, do it!  Starting early, you’ll have the option to stick with that job through the upcoming school year, which will give you some continuity and possibly the opportunity to take on more responsibility.

Grab a few friends and go volunteer.  Find something you connect with, and see if you can not only spend time this summer volunteering, but stick with it through the school year.  The more you show up, the more they’ll see you as part of the organization’s mission.  Someone in this organization might write an awesome letter of recommendation for you when it’s time for you to apply to college!

Take an academic course.  It can be online or in person.  It doesn’t have to be for credit!  Explore an academic area you might not know much about now, but you may have an interest in.  Colleges love to see students who go beyond what’s offered to them at their school.

Make sure to take rigorous courses!  Colleges will review your transcript in the context of what was available to you – and also in the context of what you tell them you’re interested in studying!  If you’re a science kid – take all the honors or AP science classes you can!  If you trend more towards the humanities, double up on history and take the interesting, non-required courses (hello, AP African American History, AP Human Geography, AP Art History!).

You should ABSOLUTELY use your summer to refresh yourself and prepare for the coming school year – but make sure to use your time strategically as well.

If you have questions about the college search process, feel free to reach out to us!  That’s what we do and we’re here to help.

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