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student at the grass

Summer—no classes, great weather, good times; who doesn’t love it? While summer is a great time to enjoy the beach, sleep in and catch up on the latest movies, it’s also a prime time for students to get things done. When school is in session, school, homework and activities can make it hard to get things done in preparation for college. Luckily, summer is a great time to accomplish college-related tasks at a more leisurely pace, especially for those rising seniors on the brink of college application season. Read on for some things to do over the summer that will help students of all ages get a leg up on preparing for college.

Pursue an interest. Students often worry about their activity lists for college. Summer is a great time to do something about it! A less rigid schedule allows students to explore their interests in depth. Take advantage of it! Remember: there is no formula for what students should do over the summer; it is more important for students to do something other than watching endless television. They should use the time to pursue what they find compelling, rather than doing what that they think will look good on an application. Students should look for activities that will allow them to explore their interests. They can pursue something that they have always wanted to try, or they can continue doing what they love, but they should make sure that to do something that they genuinely care about. Summer jobs, internships, sports, volunteer work, travel can all be fulfilling, depending on what students find most appealing.

Read. Reading is a great way for students to simultaneously relax and get stuff done. Regardless of the book you read, reading can help you build vocabulary and enhance your reading comprehension, skills important for the standardized tests like the SAT and ACT as well as for college, where students will be expected to read a great deal. It’s been shown that students who read do better in school and reading is known to keep the mind sharp. Reading can also help prepare students for writing their application essays by showing what good writers do to get their points across, how they tell stories and how they keep readers interested. If students are already avid readers, they should go ahead and indulge! If students tend to read less over the summer, they should check out school summer reading lists, if their school has one, or check out other school reading lists available online. They can also check out the library or local bookstore for recommendations.

Get a leg up on those college application essays. Writing several essays for 8-12 colleges takes a lot of thought and a lot of time. The summer is a great time for rising seniors to start thinking about which essay prompts to answer. Students should check out the common application questions and start thinking about which essay prompt they want to answer. If students already have colleges that they’re interested in, they can check out supplementary essay questions as well. Students can (and should!) also begin the process of self-reflection that is so crucial to a good college essay. Remember, complete essays don’t have to be written over the summer, but the more thought that goes into the essay, the better it will be. Summer. Why? A good college application is one that is thoughtful and reveals information about who the student is as a person. It can take many tries to produce an essay that tells a story and reveals something about the student that can’t be found elsewhere on application. Starting the process of brainstorming essay ideas early—in the summer—will help produce a good essay. It can also help reduce some of the stress and anxiety that students typically feel when writing the essay.

Consider visiting colleges. Summer can be a convenient time for college visits. Visitors will often receive more personalized attention since there are fewer visitors and activities going on during the summer. It is important to bear in mind that college campuses have different vibes during the summer, since classes aren’t in session and undergrads aren’t around. Still, students can learn from summer college visits, too. If it’s easiest to visit colleges during the summer, go for it!

Finally, students should take some time to relax. After a busy school year, students deserve some time to themselves. Chilling out a bit over the summer can prevent burnout, and it will make sure that students are ready for the upcoming year, whether they’re rising sophomores preparing to dig back into school, rising juniors heading towards a hectic year, or rising seniors getting ready for college application season!

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