I’m ready to close the book on the 2020-21 school year and never look back. My 8th grader has struggled with time management, setting reasonable expectations, and learning from home. My college kid says this was the hardest year ever and she’s not one to shy away from tough classes or challenges. So we have all earned a well deserved summer break.

But before we binge on Disney+ or Netflix, start a new project, or just head to the pool, there are a few wrap-up tasks that if done now can make next year easier.

Confirm Spring Grades

Double check. Are there any errors? Was that grade change from the second term actually entered? Don’t assume things can be straightened out in the fall. Teachers forget, get rid of old paperwork, and move. If you notice a problem, speak up now.

Confirm Course Listings

As you make sure grades are listed correctly, make sure your courses are also correct. I know sometimes in the middle of a busy school year, people agree to “fix it later.” If these changes have not been finalized, now is the time to speak up. (This is an unusual circumstance; most families won’t need to take any action.)

Keep Important Work

Before you dump everything into the trash / recycle bin, take a minute and set aside important assignments— papers, projects, tests, anything that exemplifies best work. I’m thinking ahead on this step. I’ve seen some applications that ask for students to submit a graded piece of work. Sometimes students want to ask a teacher to mention a paper or project in his or her letter of recommendation and having the original items would help. You don’t need to keep everything, but saving important work may make future tasks easier.

Clean Out

Once you have set aside important items, feel free to clean out desks, backpacks, and if you are my teenager— the car! Pass on study guides or review materials to friends or neighbors who can use them next year. Get rid of office supplies that you can’t / won’t use (broken staplers, misshapen spirals and binders, dried up markers, and nubs of pencils.) It will be easier to make a fresh start in the fall if you clean up a little now.

Update Resume

All high school and college students should take time to update their resumes. Add any activities, service hours, work, awards, or other achievements from this past year. Unless you have an immediate use for your resume, you don’t need to worry about formatting; just get everything written down either on paper or on a document you save electronically. Students applying college in the fall will want to spend extra time making sure they have accurately listed all of their high school accomplishments. (This is one of the topics I cover in the College Essay and Resume Workshop.)

Plan Ahead

If you have any energy left, you can look ahead to next year and ask, “What can I do this summer to make next year easier?”

Rising seniors should spend time working on college applications. Yes, I know most applications don’t open until August 1, so you won’t be entering your personal information directly into the online system. What you can do is draft your essays and short answer, finalize your college list, retake the ACT / SAT, and have everything ready to complete the applications when they open.

All students might consider these possibilities:

  • Locate, plan for, and complete summer reading / assignments
  • Work on areas of academic weakness
  • Dedicate time to an area of interest (can be formal activities or a self-study)
  • Complete 40+ hours of community service
  • Build college-bound vocabulary (5-10 minutes a day adds up!)
  • Start researching / visiting colleges
  • Work on building new habits

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Conclusion

If you want more ideas and more in-depth discussion of some of these elements, check out this episode of “The College Prep Podcast”: 6 Steps to Wrap Up Your Semester.

Celebrate your successes from this year! Take time to complete these items to make next year easier then enjoy some well deserved relaxation!