Senior year

Top 5 Things to Do the Summer Before Your High School Senior Year

The summer before senior year is the last in your high school career. Yes, you’ll have summer vacations in college, but they won’t feel exactly the same as this one. We put together a list of things, both fun and productive, to make this summer great and get a jump start on an amazing senior year.

1) Get started on your college application and essay

Yeah, we know. That’s not much fun. Like many parents, we usually put the “work” before the “fun.” So, bear with us for a moment. (We didn’t forget fun! See #5 below.)

Trust us on this one. Imagine the feeling of being well ahead of your fellow seniors in the process this fall. Think of how you’ll feel with a bunch of tasks DONE…well on your way to completion of your applications.

Senior year is a frenzy of activity with classes, extracurriculars, and fun! Starting these necessary college tasks over the summer removes a burden from your already busy schedule.

What should you be working on? Applications, essays, recommendation letters, ACT/SAT testing, getting organized, knowing your deadlines, researching scholarships, and making a college list. Have a weekly family meeting to talk about college stuff.

If you could use a hand with all this, our College Application Workshop in June will give you all the tools you need to get started. Our continuing support throughout the summer will help you maintain your momentum into the school year. Read more about it here.

2) Do something productive

Get a job, volunteer, explore a hobby, research a topic of interest, check out a summer camp, etc. Can we count these as half fun and half work? These types of activities help you grow as a person. They help you figure out what you know about yourself (see #3) and build those life skill muscles you’ll need in college and beyond.

3) Think about “you” and careers of interest

What do we mean by this? Very soon, you’ll be asked to make important decisions about your life including identifying possible careers and choosing a college. These decisions are more challenging when you don’t have a firm understanding of yourself.

What are your strengths, interests, values, challenges, skills, etc.? Too often, students don’t take the time to think about these. This summer make the time to do this thinking. Get out a journal and pen or type in an app or on your laptop. Think about the experiences you have had in the past (classes, activities, projects, etc.). What did you enjoy or not enjoy and why? The “why” is the key. Evaluate your experiences and what they say about who you are.

This knowledge of yourself drives your selection of careers to research. Summer is the best time to do career research. Your schedule is more open. Some of our recommended websites to research careers include the Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*Net.

Overwhelmed by the prospect of this self assessment? You are not alone. We created Guided Self Assessment because this type of thinking is difficult for most students. Read more about Guided Self Assessment here as well as here. Summer is ideal for the series of one-on-one sessions between the student and their facilitator to dig, discuss, and analyze. Book a family meeting to learn more about it.

4) College visits

While we often suggest visiting a college campus while school is in session, it is not always possible. (Hello, COVID!) Summer is still a great time to visit campuses. Our blog has some great visiting tips for you. Visit campuses, add in some enjoyable family time, and you’ll be creating memories.

5) Have fun!

Be sure to leave time for fun. Down time is so important to recharge. Spend time with friends. Play video games. Read. Sleep. Cook. Create. Get outside. Whatever your down time activity of choice is…do it.

As we said in the intro, this summer will be the last high school summer break. College breaks will look and feel different. Co-ops, study abroad trips, internships, summer courses, and work may all change your family free time.

Families need to plan time together this year. Take a trip. Visit relatives. Have a weekly family game night. These connections and memories will stick with you as your family dynamic changes going forward.


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