Many say the junior year is the most important for college admissions. What should students do over the summer to help prepare for this year? Get a job? Volunteer? Find a leadership position? Do some summer enrichment programs work?
While the summer after your junior year will be spent finalizing your college list, working on applications, continuing to visit colleges, and continuing preparation for standardized tests, the summer before junior year is the foundation that will help you prepare for a challenging and productive year ahead.
First, make sure that whatever you do, that you are productive. While it is tempting to spend the entire summer beside the pool, get involved with something that you are passionate about. Volunteer at a local food pantry, job shadow someone who works in the career you are interested, secure a part time job, babysit, or create your own business. There is no better or worse activity–the key is to follow your interests and give it your all.
Second, beginning to research colleges in earnest is crucial as it will help you to begin to hone in on what you do and don’t like and will help you to better formulate a list of colleges that are a good fit for you. The best way to research…visit. Even if you aren’t able to travel out-of-state for visits, plan to visit local colleges and try to visit a variety of different kinds of colleges (large, small, rural, urban, liberal arts, research, etc.). Take notes and ask questions while you’re on campus. You’ll thank yourself later when you have the notes to return to when you are filling out applications.
Third, use the summer to get a head start on preparing for standardized tests (ACT, PSAT, SAT, AP exams). Taking a group class that introduces you to the types of questions asked and strategies that you can use to boost your performance is a great idea.
Whatever you do, follow your interests, do your research and get excited about an exciting junior year to come!
Leah has a decade of selective college admissions and college counseling experience as both an admissions counselor at the University of Michigan and Assistant Dean of College Counseling at Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School. Leah has also worked in admissions at Harvard College and volunteers as an alumni interviewer at her alma mater Tufts University. She is a member of IECA, HECA and NACAC.