Grade by grade what high school students need to do this summer to prepare for college admissions
<![CDATA[Ahhh! I love the freedom of summer. I can stay up a little later and don’t need to set my alarm. (I’m up most days before 7:00 anyway!) For many students summer is a much needed break and a time to catch up. Catch up with friends, on new movies or favorite tv shows, on activities you wanted to do during the year. Summer was my daughter’s time to catch up on service projects because between her AP classes and her speech and debate schedule, she rarely had time to volunteer during the school year. Right now she is catching up by finishing her Girl Scout Gold Award project (weeks before the deadline!)
College Planning TimeSummer is also the time to do some essential college planning. Of course, rising seniors have the most to do. The college admissions timetable is much earlier than when I was in high school and seniors are well advised to get applications ready before school starts. Of course there are still important tasks for juniors, sophomores, and even entering freshman. Here’s your checklist. I’ve included links to help you get more information on certain points.
Rising Seniors (12th grade)1. Work to finalize your college list— ideally you will finish your college visits and research over the summer allowing you to make the final list of the schools to which you want to apply. This doesn’t mean you can’t add another one or two in the fall, but the bulk of your research and consideration should be completed this summer. [If you want to know how many colleges you should apply to, read here.] 2. Prepare for and retake the SAT or ACT if necessary. Students have an opportunity to test over the summer and early fall.
- ACT: July, September, October
- SAT: August, October
Rising Juniors (11th grade)1. Make plans for the PSAT, SAT/ACT— Junior year is when you want to complete ALL of your standardized test taking. Some students are preparing over the summer, but some will make a decision to wait until fall or spring. Take a look at the testing schedule and your activity calendar to decide what time is right for you. If you want details on key factors to consider, I walk you though the decisions HERE. Ultra high scoring students should prepare for the PSAT in October. [To understand why the PSAT is important for high-scoring students read here.] All other students should look for a time when they will be
- Motivated and focused on test taking
- Able to spend time preparing
- Available to take the exam
Entering Freshmen (9th grade) and
Rising Sophomores (10th grade)1. Build skills. Vocabulary, Reading, foundational math, writing, grammar, and communications. Take this opportunity to fill in gaps or get a head start for next year. This summer my son who is entering seventh grade is working on Rosetta Stone Spanish because he will take Spanish I in school. He is also reading every day and learning to type. There are so many ways that students can make next school year go smoother by spending a few minutes a day over the summer building skills. If you don’t have some ideas in mind, I do offer a vocabulary program that in 5 minutes a day will help students grades 7-12 build college-bound vocabularies. Check it out HERE. 2. Start and update a resume. Everything you do from the last day of 8th grade can be listed on your college-bound resume. Get in the habit of tracking time spent in activities, service, and other projects. You don’t need to create a fancy document. At this point I would break your resume into four sections:
- Honors / Awards
- Work / Internships / Summer Activities