It’s easy to treat your junior year--rather than your senior year--as the culmination of your high school career. Junior year is the last full year of grades that colleges see when you apply, after all, and many high school students take on leadership positions in their extracurriculars during their junior year. Senior year, however, is just as important as junior year, and you need to treat it that way. Here are ten steps that you should follow during the summer before your final high school hurrah to set the stage for a productive senior year.
1. Research Colleges
Summer is a great time to start narrowing down your college list—and it’s also a great time for college visits. Choosing colleges now will save you time during the application cycle, and college visits will let you get a feel for the campus and get your questions answered directly by college admissions officers.
2. Brainstorm Application Essay Topics
Most college applications ask a variant of the same topics. It is easy to start thinking about the topics you want to write about, and maybe even compose a draft of two of various topics. This will not only serve as good practice for the application cycle, it will also give you a head start!
3. Consider Your References
Choosing teachers to write recommendations can be one of the most daunting tasks during the application process. By taking some time to think about who you’d like to ask, you will be ahead of the pack.
4. Work on Your Résumé
Many schools require you to list out your activities, awards, employment, and experiences either in résumé format or on the application, often with start and end dates and specific duties or tasks you accomplished. Having this information already on hand once the time comes can be very useful.
5. Aim for Leadership Positions
Stay involved in student organizations in a leadership capacity! It will lend structure to your senior year—and will look great on your applications, too!
6. Plan Out Your Senior Year Academics
Taking interesting and challenging classes is the key to beating Senioritis. Planning out academics ahead of time will make sure your senior year is a good one!
7. Take the SAT and ACT
Most colleges require one or both of these tests. If you haven’t taken the test by the end of your junior year, you should study and take them as soon as possible. Consider an SAT or ACT course if you need help preparing for these tests.
8. Beef Up Your Reading List
Not only will it help keep your vocabulary up for their SAT and ACT, reading classics and advanced literature will prepare you for your college reading loads.
9. Figure Out Your Finances
Finances aren’t just about worrying about how to pay for college. You should also become adept at budgeting, handling a bank account, and (if applicable) managing a credit card—all skills that will serve you well during college.
10. Talk To Your Parents
Take the time to talk to your parents about choosing a college, paying for college, managing finances, and preparing for life on your own. Parents have been there and done that, and they have valuable hands-on advice and experiences to share!
Image: "The Catch" courtesy of Taylor Hand