What should high school students do before the summer of their senior year?

College Search

Our counselors answered:

What should high school students do before the summer of their senior year?

Rod Bugarin
Former Admissions Officer Columbia, Brown, and Wesleyan University

What should high school students do before the summer of their senior year?

Here is my video response to the question.

Pam Proctor
Author The College Hook

What should high school students do before the summer of their senior year?

Here is my video response to the question.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Summertime

Visit colleges. Read books. Get a job. Take a pre-college class at a college campus. Finalize your college list. Start on your essays. Volunteer. Get an internship. Begin the Common Application which becomes available on August 1. Relax a little before school starts...

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Summer Before Senior Year—Make It Count

There are a number of things you should do before your senior year that can help in the process. Start on application at its worst the process can seem like another class so anything you can do—draft of essays, entering the basic information on the Common application, whatever--can help ease that burden. Do some final visits even though summer visit to some schools may not give you the best picture since they may not have very full or vibrant summer population. Undertake some kind of productive and substantive activity—an academic program, volunteer work, or a job. Work in particular has a bad rap as far as its impact on college, and it shouldn’t for the demonstration of responsibility inherent in any job is nothing but positive. There is no one right thing to do, but use the summer productively.

Lora Lewis
Educational Consultant Lora Lewis Consulting

What should high school students do before the summer of their senior year?

Ideally, students will have made significant progress in their college process during junior year and will already be developing a list of potential schools and batting around idea for essays. Given the intensity of 11th grade, however, most kids are still at the beginning stages of the process when summer rolls around. Of course, it's crucial to have good grades in rigorous courses under your belt up through junior year, and to have been engaged in a few solid extracurricular activities during your high school years. These are things that you can't start making up for as a rising senior; if you haven't got them taken care of, it is, essentially, too late. What you CAN do before school gets out for summer is take the SAT Subject tests while the material from your junior year classes is still fresh in your mind. You can be sure that you're signed up for a full course load of rigorous classes (no slacking off! Senior year isn't synonymous with a five period day). You should also talk with the teachers who you'd like to write letters of recommendation for you, and, if they're willing, get their summer email addresses so you can send them brag sheets, Common Application recommender invites, and other necessary materials. If you can provide them with the info they'll need to write you a thorough recommendation before you leave in June, so much the better; teachers often prefer to write letters over the summer, when they aren't burdened with academic year paperwork (and they tend to write better letters during the relaxing days of summer as well).

Prilla OConnell

What should high school students do before the summer of their senior year?

Too many students their senior year wished they had used their summer break to start the application process. I would say in August before school starts up, begin "messing" with the personal essay and if schools you're applying to are part of the Common Application, begin to fill out some of the sections. I say August because that is when the Common Application becomes available for students' senior year application to college. (Rumor has it that in Fall, 2013, one of the essay prompts will be changing.) And, even if your schools are not part of the Common App., August is plenty soon enough to dig into that arduous task of beginning your personal statement/college essay! In the meantime, if you have found a school/s you just love your junior year, check out summer programs for high school students at these campuses. Just maybe, it would make sense to participate in the program if it jazzes you! (Never do it thinking it will help with being admitted...) Use your summer to follow your interests and/or employment opportunities. The key is to NEVER DO NOTHING---keep pursuing opportunities.

Shoshana Krieger

What should high school students do before the summer of their senior year?

Before the summer of senior year, students should spend at least 2-4 weeks doing something productive, interesting, and challenging. The exact activity should be dictated by the student and their interests. Colleges don't specifically want certain types of activities. They want to see students pursuing their interests, and showing initiative, leadership, and commitment in those areas. Some ideas for things to do over the summer are working (colleges like it when students have a real job), pursuing an internship, attending an interesting summer program, studying abroad, focusing intently on your sport, art, or music, or doing foreign language immersion. Any of these (and just about anything else you can think of!) are fine, as long as they are of interest for the student, and are challenging, engaging, and interesting.

Brittany Maschal
Founder/Director B. Maschal Educational Consulting

What should high school students do before the summer of their senior year?

Utilizing the summer break is critical to a successful application process. Admissions officers look for engagement in activities 12 months of the year, not just during the school year. So, what you do with your summer’s matters. There is no right or wrong way to spend this time, but let it be unique to your own situation, goals and needs – just make sure you do something! Some students spend the summer focusing solely on test prep or taking classes at a local community college or online (MOOC’s, too). Others work full-time or part time, and there are some students who travel, volunteer or focus on a sport or sports. Most students do a combination of one or more of the above over the summer months, and the ability to demonstrate balance of a set of meaningful activities is a great characteristic to be able to highlight in your application. In addition to continuing extracurricular activities, getting started on your essays should be near the top of your summer to-do list. The new Common Application prompts are out now (and School Supplements go live August 1st), so starting to brainstorm and draft during the summer months will save you a ton of time come the start of the busy senior school year. Even if you can only commit to working on them a few hours a week you will find yourself far ahead of your peers who have not put in the extra effort. You will be thanking yourself come October when your friends are stressed out trying to complete them all and you have time to continue your focus on maintaining that GPA!

Kiersten Murphy
Executive Director and Founder Murphy College Consultants LLC

What should high school students do before the summer of their senior year?

You should: - work on your college essays - fill out applications - do something academic or within your area of passion - narrow your college list - have fun!

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

What should high school students do before the summer of their senior year?

High school students should already have an idea of the schools to which they want to apply before the summer of their senior year. Most, if not all, of the research should be done. If possible, arrangements should be made to visit the schools of interest - either in the spring of a student's junior year or in the summer of his/her senior year. Of course, this is not always feasible for various logistical and financial reasons, but there's nothing that can beat an actual visit to a campus in helping a student to make college application and acceptance decisions. On those visits, the student should plan to attend an information session, take a campus tour, and if required or recommended by the institution, participate in a private interview with one of the admissions officers. Time permitting, it would also be of benefit for the student to wander around campus for awhile to get a feel for the environment. The best time to visit a college is when classes are in session and students are on campus, but this doesn't always fit into the schedules of most high school students, so the visits will just have to be scheduled when they can be - usually spring or summer breaks. When colleges are in session, it is often possible to schedule on-campus overnight stays with current students, which is one more way to get a "feel" for the schools. I also recommend that my clients take at least one SAT and/or one ACT before the summer of their senior year. This accomplishes several purposes: Firstly, a student can determine areas of strength and weakness and can focus on the areas in which he/she would like to improve before taking the test again once or twice in the fall of the senior year. (In my experience, taking the tests more than three times can be counter-productive.) Secondly, getting an idea of a student's potential test results and comparing those results with standardized test score ranges at the schools in which the student is interested can be useful in determining which schools represent realistic expectations and which are "reaches". Keep in mind that the standardized test score ranges which schools publish are typically the middle 50%, which means that 25% of admitted students had lower test scores and 25% of admitted students had higher test scores. Students in the lower 25% usually had some other defining strength or quality, which made up for the less stellar test scores - musical, artistic, or athletic ability, international background, etc. It is also important to know that a small, but growing, group of colleges have decided to no longer require standardized test scores of their applicants, feeling that the scores are not representative of a student's potential for college/university success. These schools are not in the majority, however. During their junior year, students should have made every effort to work toward success in their high school classes. Again, this if for several reasons: Firstly, the grades that will be initially entered on students' applications will be grades from the junior year. Of course, students should stay focused on doing well in the 12th grade, as well, as those grades will ultimately be provided through the Mid-Year and Final Grade Reports to the schools to which they apply. Another reason for working diligently in the 11th grade is that students will, in all likelihood, be asking their 11th grade teachers for college recommendations, since, at the time that college applications are being sent out, 11th grade teachers will most often have more knowledge of a student, having worked with him/her for a full year and completed a full year of instruction with him/her. Students will want to ensure that what their recommenders are able to say about them will be positive.