10 Things You Should Be Doing to Prep for College the Summer Before Senior Year

transition into college“I am going into my Senior year of high school. What can I do to prep for college this summer?” Sound familiar? Summer is halfway over, and while you’ve been out with friends swatting away mosquitos and dipping your feet into pools, Veritas Prep has been here gathering the most important information about what you should be doing to prep for the last year of high school!

We had a chance to catch up with Stephanie Fernandez, former Assistant Director of Admissions for Northwestern University, and she has some tips and tricks to help keep you motivated this summer and to eliminate stress when the regular school year starts up again.  Trust us, it’ll be here before you know it!  Stephanie broke down the things you should be doing into two major categories: application work and involvement work.

Application Work

Stephanie says, “get a jump start on visiting as many colleges as financially possible.  If you go to the schools, you can get the best vibe.  Colleges can sound great on paper, but visiting is the best thing you can do to help you refine your target school list.”  Whew.  Great advice indeed.  Maybe you grew up wearing a University of Michigan sweatshirt, and then you go there and realize… “Oh my god! It’s even better than I expected! Go blue!” (I might be a bit biased, but you get the point.)

Additionally, Stephanie suggests that you start working on the Common App Personal Statement.  If you aren’t applying to schools that utilize the Common App, start on any of their essays that have been released early.  As soon as school starts, you will be busy juggling extracurricular activities, spending time with your friends, homework, classes, and all of the other obligations you deal with throughout the academic year – too many responsibilities to give these essays your full attention.  Starting over the summer will really eliminate a lot of stress as you head into your senior year.  

Also, there’s this wacky idea that Senior year isn’t difficult because you’ll be graduating soon, however remember that it’s really important to maintain the grades and the participation/involvement that you’ve been able to achieve historically. Admissions Committees do not like to see that you’ve arrived at your Senior year and started to slack off.

Involvement Work

Stephanie reminded us that Admissions Committees are most interested in your involvement during the school year because then they can see how you balance all of your activities with usual responsibilities, which is a skill you’ll definitely need to be able to do in college.  That being said, Admissions Committees do not want to see that you’ve been doing nothing.  They want to see some type of progress over the summer.  

Stephanie gave us some great suggestions for how students about to enter their Senior Year should spend time over the summer, and we’re going to pass them along to you. You can: 

1) Get a part-time job.

2) Find research labs at nearby universities to assist with research.

3) Secure an internship in anything that interests you. This doesn’t have to be related to your major (interning at an art gallery will not prevent you from eventually becoming a doctor)!

4) Give back to your community. Keep in mind, however, that over-doing your volunteer work right before applications are due can make it look like you are trying to pad your application. Make any volunteer or community involvement you do authentic.

5) Test out a career you are considering by finding a professional to shadow.

6) Get involved with sports camps, summer team practice, or personal training. Working with your team over the summer is a great use of time – use this opportunity to establish yourself as a leader of the team (if you haven’t already). Helping the coach schedule meetings or run practices is another good way to establish yourself as a leader. 

As a last reminder, if you haven’t already secured your letters of recommendation (which we recommend you do at the end of your Junior year, if possible), connect with your teachers when school starts up again in the fall, and be sure to ask them for help right away.

That’s it!  A special thanks to Stephanie Fernandez for allowing us to interview her about this topic.  We’ve gotten a lot of questions from applicants just like you about this topic, and she helped us address these concerns!  

Oh, another fun fact, Stephanie now works as one of Veritas Prep’s College Admissions Consultants, so if you need help getting into your dream school, be sure to check-out our variety of college consulting services.  Our team of Admissions Consultants are industry experts. Not only are they strong coaches and mentors throughout the application process, but they have former admissions experience evaluating applicants on behalf of some of the most selective schools in the world.  If you want more personalized advice about how to begin your college application process, using a College Admissions Consultant is the best way to have it! 

Okay, that’s all folks! Now put down the Snapchat and get to work!

Do you need more help navigating the college admissions process? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

How You Should Spend Your First Summer After College

Study on the BeachOkay, so you’ve just finished up your first year of college. It was (hopefully) awesome and you (hopefully) learned a lot, but now it’s time for summer. Glorious summer! Throughout middle and high school, summer vacation was always the peak of the year – a time to relax and enjoy the company of old friends without the incessant demands of school.

Now that you’re a college student, though, things can seem a little different. All of a sudden, you might feel pressure from your family, friends, or classmates to use your summer in a certain way. This often manifests itself in the form of pressure to further your career prospects via an internship, fellowship, or job shadowing.

While doing this may be important, it is not the only worthwhile way you can spend your first summer out of college. It is important to remember that it is your summer – not anyone else’s – so what you choose to do with it should be a reflection of the values that are important to you.

When you don’t let any narrative or stereotype limit what you feel you are “supposed” to do with your first summer, you will be more free to make the best choice available to you. There are 3 main ways that you can use this first summer, each of which have merits and drawbacks that I’ll explore below:

1) Summer Job
One classic way to pass the long summer hours is with a summer job. This can take many forms, such as scooping ice cream, being a camp counselor, working as a cashier, and much more. Businesses are always looking for young people to fill positions, so it’s likely that you’ll be able to find some form of work.

These jobs may not pay high wages, but they can be a great source of income, both to chip away at outrageous college debts or to just have some fun money to spend during the summer. They will also add work experience to your resume, and give you real-world skills that can be valuable outside of just that specific job.

2) Internship
Even though the pressure to find elite internships is often excessive, internships can be a valuable use of your time in the summer. Internships can connect you with career opportunities, help you learn what jobs are of interest to you, and give you skills that might be valuable down the road. However, internships are often unpaid, meaning that doing one is likely a long-term, rather than a short-term, investment in yourself. There are some paid internships out there (Go get one if you can!), but these are a rarity.

If possible, combining an internship with a part-time summer job can be a good way to have the best of both worlds – gain career skills while also raising money – but this can sometimes take too much time out of your summer, a time when you should be able to decompress after the rigors of college rather than add to your stress level.

3) Travel and Relaxation
College students are in a unique position, in that even though they are close to the “real world,” they still can put off searching for careers, if only for a little while. One great way to use your youth is to travel with friends or family to see new places or revisit childhood destinations. You’ll meet friends from all over the world in college, and summer is a great time to really see where they come from.

If you don’t have the opportunity to travel, you can also use your summer to completely relax. Without homework or classes, you will have time to read books, go on adventures, and give your brain a well-deserved break. Although this won’t earn you money or directly prepare you for a career, it can help clear you head and put you in a good position to continue learning from, and enjoying, your college experience.

Each of these ways of spending your summer has different values and benefits, so there is no way to definitely rank which one is best. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer – anything you choose to do over your summer vacation can work out if you approach it with the right mindset.

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.