The summer before your senior year is crucial to your college plans, as it affords you more time you otherwise might not have when school starts. Luckily, there are plenty of ways rising seniors like you can take advantage of this time to get ahead on their college admissions.

1. Explore Your Passion

Colleges consider much more than just academics when weighing applicants. When it comes to picking two highly qualified students, extracurriculars are often the deciding factor. That being said, just be yourself.

There is so much literature out there about what you need to do to “set yourself apart” when in reality all you need to do is explore your passion. Summer is the perfect time to go out and explore something, anything, that interests you.

However, don’t do something just because you think you should be doing it. When it comes to extracurriculars, forcing yourself to do something you don’t actually want to do will show.

The cool thing is that you can truly do anything. One student spent the summer digging holes in his parent’s backyard and wrote a stellar essay, on the value of hard work. The possibilities are endless.

2. Professionalize

Although the idea of being a working professional seems far off, it never hurts to be prepared. And, if you’re considering an internship while you’re in school, taking steps to professionalize yourself now, is all the more important. Start by doing the following:

  • Create a resume, or update it if you already have one

  • Get a professional e-mail address. Something like:

  • Clean up your social media. Some great tips on that here

Read: Applying to College? Clean up Your Social Media!

3. Scout Colleges

If you already have your list of colleges, scheduling visits during the summer is a great next step.

Visiting the summer before your senior year is smart too, as it could potentially save you time in the busy year to come. Campus tours allow you to imagine yourself as a student at that school and is a great way to show strong initial interest.

If at all possible, check to see if the school’s you’re visiting offer interviews. While you're there, take notes on memorable moments, which will come in handy when you’re writing your admissions essay.

4. Prepare for Senior Year

This is it! Senior year is both an exciting and challenging time. Whether you’ll be pressed with rigorous academic work, or smooth sailing; preparing ahead of time will give your more time to enjoy being a senior. With that, here’s a short of list of things you can do to prepare for the fall:

  • Register for standardized tests you will be taking in the fall.

  • Complete the net price calculators for each school where you plan to apply so you know what to expect from a need-based financial aid package.

  • Begin working on drafts of a personal essay (find the Common App essay topics here).

As more and more schools sign onto the Common Application (over 400 colleges use it now), there’s a good chance you'll apply to one that uses it for their admissions process. By the end of the summer, the Common App will announce their essay topics, so you can get started early.

Read: Why Summer Vacation Helps You Get Into College


Authored by Gilmar Rosas

Gilmar works with American Honors and covers tips on how students can excel both inside and outside the classroom.