10 Ways to Prep for College in the Summer

Start your summer college prep as soon as possible!

Flickr user Andrew Flemming

Summer break means no school and endless fun. But amidst the excitement, don’t forget the importance of planning for your future.

College prep is all about getting yourself ready for the next step in your education journey. It involves a range of tasks aimed at helping you apply to colleges and succeed once you’re enrolled. From researching colleges to working on your grades and test scores, college prep sets you up for success in higher education. Here’s a guide to summer college prep:

1. Start Thinking About Colleges and Majors

With no classes and some extra downtime, summer is a good time to contemplate potential colleges and majors that interest you. Start by creating a list of ones that catch your attention, even if just slightly.

You may even want to visit some of the colleges! As it gets later in the summer, you may want to do more intensive research into the potential schools and courses. This can help you narrow down the ones you’ll actually apply to.

2. Study for the SAT/ACT

You should take advantage of the extra time on your hands by using it to prepare for the SAT/ACT. It doesn’t have to consume your entire summer—you can dedicate just a few minutes each day to answer a couple of practice questions. This could make a significant difference in your test performance.

3. Work on Your GPA

Summer break is a great time to take summer classes or get tutoring. These efforts can lead to a boost in your GPA, which will strengthen your college applications. If your pretty happy with your grades, add some summer reading to your “to-do” list.

4. Start Drafting College Essays

You can start working on your college essays and personal statements during summer break. Summer provides a quieter time for you to think about your experiences, values, and dreams which are all vital for a great essay. Also, you’ll have the time to begin jotting down ideas and writing rough drafts. Starting in the summer will give you plenty of time to revise and improve your writing. This way, you can ensure your essays truly express who you are to admissions officers.

5. Join a Summer Program or Activity

Participating in summer programs or activities will strengthen your college application. You can opt for a structured summer program to delve deeper into your interests. Or, you could explore college-sponsored opportunities, such as SAT/ACT prep courses or art and science workshops. Either way, you’ll gain valuable skills and insights.

Additionally, you might want to consider doing extracurricular activities that align with your passions. Some examples of these could be swimming, cycling, or joining a poetry club. Summer programs and activities can help you make the most of your summer while enhancing your college profile.

6. Look for an Internship

Considering a summer internship, or one extending into your senior year, can also boost your college application. Start by looking for opportunities related to your interests or future career goals. Don’t just limit yourself to local options. You can think about exploring ones in places where you might have family or connections.

Internships give you a chance to see what a career is really like. You might find that it’s different from what you imagined, and that’s okay. It’s all about learning and figuring out what you want to do in the future.

7. Volunteer

When it comes to volunteering, there’s no doubt tons of options are available to you. Check out local animal shelters, community centers, environmental organizations, and summer camps. Each of these may have volunteer opportunities that interest you. Volunteering is great because it benefits others and also provides you with invaluable experience that can support college applications.

8. Consider a Summer Job

Getting a summer job is a great idea if you need some extra cash or want to start saving for college. It can also be enjoyable and give you valuable experience. Plus, a summer job can help you develop crucial skills like time management, responsibility, and communication. Each of these are qualities colleges often value in applicants.

9. Start Applying for Scholarships

Scholarships offer you money for college that doesn’t need to be paid back—does it get any better than that? So the more you apply for, the better.

Plan to start your scholarship search and applications during the summer. This will give you a head start and potentially increase your chances of earning the awards.

10. Stay Organized

To stay organized, create a schedule that helps you keep track of deadlines and tasks. You can allocate time for researching colleges, studying for standardized tests, drafting essays, and participating in extracurricular activities.

Your schedule will guide you through the various steps of the college preparation process and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Additionally, staying organized allows you to manage your time effectively. You’ll be able to balance your academic responsibilities with other commitments and maintain a healthy work-life balance throughout the summer.

College Prep Is Worth It

Whether you’re researching colleges, studying for tests, or writing essays, spending time on college prep in the summer will set you up for success. To support your journey, check out College Raptor’s FREE College Match tool and Scholarship Search tool.

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