Planning for College: What to do Over the Long Summer Break?

Summer Activities for College Applications | College Planning Guide

The road to submitting your college applications is a long one. The students with the best outcomes are those that have been working towards their applications throughout high school, so in this article, I’m going to look at what students from different grades should be doing to make the most of the time available over the summer.

Grade 9 and 10/ Freshman and Sophomore.

If you are finishing grades 9 and 10, then the summer is the time for you to delve into your interests and explore new ones. Good grades will only get you so far in the college application process, colleges will also want to know about activities you have been a part of, and the long break provides the perfect opportunity for you to put time into these activities.

Things you might do include:

  • You may have been accepted onto an excellent summer program; if not, then look for an academic project that you can do yourself that will help you explore your academic interest further. It could be an online course; sites like edx and Coursera have hundreds of courses that enable you to explore topics in greater depth than you can at school.

  • Explore a career by applying for an internship. You can use the time to gain insight into a career you are considering, but just spending time in a work environment gives you a better understanding of how work expectations differ from school. The best internships will give you the opportunity to contribute directly to work. Perhaps you can write a sales report, debug some code, or help customers.

  • Take stock of how you are getting on with your subjects. Are there areas that you feel you need to improve on or go back and remind yourself about? You can also use the summer to prepare for the year to come and start reading about topics you will be studying.

  • Use the summer to catch up on reading. You should aim to read a broad range of books, factual, novels, histories, fantasy, or anything else that appeals. There are lots of recommended reading lists on the internet, so choose a few books and put some time aside each day to read.

  • While many colleges remain test-optional, an increasing number are once again expecting applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of their application information. With this in mind, work to ensure that you understand how to answer the questions that typically come up in the tests. You can do this by using online sources such as Khan Academy or ACT. Once familiar with the material, try doing multiple tests under exam conditions. If you are getting the types of scores the colleges you want to apply to typically accept, go ahead and register to sit the test on one of the upcoming test dates.

Grade 11/Junior Year.

If you have just finished Grade 11, then you will hopefully be well into the stride of preparing for your college applications in the next few months; if not, here are some reminders of what you should be doing now.

  • Narrowing it down to a short college list. Identify colleges that have a good academic, social and geographic fit, making sure you have a mix of reach, target and safety colleges. Use reliable sources of information to research the colleges. In particular, delve into the majors you are interested in, including the elective courses they offer. Also, find out about life on campus; after all, you won’t spend all your time studying.

  • As part of your research, make sure that if you can’t visit in person, you go on a virtual tour of any colleges you are interested in attending. In addition, many colleges or groups of colleges are running online information sessions at times that make them accessible to international audiences. Some sessions coming up shortly include one covering Brown, UChicago, Columbia, Rice, and Cornell,  while USC, Rice, and Dartmouth are all offering information sessions over the summer. You should also sign up for the newsletters that colleges send to prospective students; not only will you get to know the college better, but the college will understand that you are seriously interested in them.

  • Continue to work on your personal essay required as part of your Common App. Keep working to improve your essay by showing it to family and people whose opinions you value and listening to their feedback. Don’t forget to check the grammar and make sure you are using American spelling.

  • As with students from Grades 9 and 10, the summer is an excellent time to complete an internship if you have not been accepted by a summer program. As this is your last summer before applying, try to ensure that you will be doing something meaningful while there. Ask yourself, ‘How will I explain to somebody what I have gained from this internship?’

  • Being able to dedicate a significant length of time to something is what makes the summer so crucial in the application process. Now is a great time to complete any additional qualifications that will show you have studied the subject to a level colleges expect. One that a number of Ivy Central students do over the summer is a higher-level calculus course, which is done for credit.

  • If you have decided to submit an SAT or ACT score with your college applications but have not yet sat the test or didn’t get the score you want, you only have a few more opportunities to take the test. SAT has dates in August, October, and December, while the ACT has test dates in September, October, and December. Don’t forget to register well before the date you want to take the test.

Grade 12/Senior year

I hope that having come through the application process, you are now eagerly looking forward to heading off and starting the next phase of your life. Now is a time when you can take the pressure off to some extent and rejuvenate yourself, ready for the next four years.

However, before you relax entirely, have a read of a previous blog I have written primarily for rising college sophomores containing seven tips to help you prepare for college.

Working with study abroad consultants, overseas education consultants, or, as more commonly known, college counselors, can help you plan ahead and make those high school years count. Ivy Central offers exceptional focus to help you prepare for college admissions throughout the high-schooling years. Start today!

Share This:


Enroll Today for 2024-25 Sessions

Enroll Today for the 2024-25 Sessions and embark on a transformative educational journey with us.