Whether you put off the job search too long or are a victim of the economy, there are still plenty of ways for college bound students to have a productive summer.

Rising Seniors

A busy fall during application season is unavoidable, but pacing yourself starting this summer can ease the stress and still allow you to enjoy your senior year.

  • Be a researcher. A realistic goal is to have a finalized list of colleges for application by August 1st when the Common App and many others will go online. Starting your search on the web is great and you’ll likely need to schedule some visits. Don’t feel like you need to visit every school before application. It’s okay to do spring visits once you have admission decisions and final aid packages.
  • Hone your writing. With almost 500 colleges using the Common App, you’ll likely apply to a school that uses it. Fortunately, they’ve already released their essay prompts.  Using summer to develop your essay for college applications will take the pressure off in the fall.  Even if you have different essays, it’s likely something you can tweak in the fall and you’ll still be far ahead in the application game.
  • Start your applications. Many colleges, as well as Common App, will release their applications on August 1st – some even earlier. Make it your goal to get the applications complete before school starts. Once school starts, you can request recommendations, transcripts and test scores to complete your application.
  • Apply for scholarships. In addition to scholarships awarded by the colleges, there are many private scholarships available as well.  Fast Web is a great starting point. Just be sure to set-up an alternate email address for scholarships only. Make it your goal to apply to one scholarship per week.
Rising Juniors
  • Create your testing timeline.  By charting a course for ACT and/or SAT testing, you’ll avoid many of the pitfalls made by last minute decisions. We gave some great tips for doing so in a previous LEAP post.
  • ACT or SAT or Both. You may just have enough information via PLAN and PSAT results to make this decision now. This will save you time later.
  • Lay a grammar foundation. Is that lay or lie a foundation? If you don’t know which and why, pick-up a grammar workbook to improve this common area of weakness on future ACT or SAT testing. Unlike their parents, most students now miss out on the fun of diagramming sentences (hear the sarcasm?). Unfortunately, both the ACT and SAT heavily assess grammar knowledge. Plug any holes now.
  • Get on campus! Whether making a pit stop on a family vacation or doing more intentional visits, take the time to start figuring out what “fits”.  Small or Large? Urban, suburban or college town? There are a wide array of choices you need to start narrowing in on.
  • Apply for scholarships. It’s not too early! See the tip for seniors.
Regardless of your summer plans to work or not, being purposeful now will create ease later.