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How to Position Yourself for Success This Summer

Summer is an important time to get some well-deserved rest and to prep for the year to come. These two things can sound contradictory, but it is more than possible to balance them.


Depending where you’re at in your journey through high school, there are different ways you can make headway with your summer plans. Keep reading for specific tips based on your school year.



Rising Sophomores (3 more years until graduation)


Discovery & Experimentation


This is the time to really try out a variety of hobbies and activities, to read about many topics and see what inspires you. There won’t be a better time than this during the coming few years!


  • Learn about at least ONE topic outside of your comfort zone. It will help you realize how many interesting things there are out there. From the process of glass production to team management in meerkat populations, the sky's the limit!
  • Do ONE thing that helps you create something tangible or have a real impact on at least one other person. This could be an art project or a community service commitment.
  • Focus on building relationships with those around you! It will only get busier from this year onwards, so make sure to consolidate friendships and learn to balance social time with work.
  • Build up on basic math skills. There are many math concepts we learn around the age of 10 but then forget. Without these, it will become harder to succeed in other courses (science, stats, economics, advanced math), and test prep for SAT/ACT will be a real challenge. Do this now, so you can feel comfortable down the line!



Rising Juniors (2 more years until graduation)


Exploration & Planning


This is a perfect summer to get some college-related work out of the way. It might seem early, but if done right, this will really free up your next summer so you can focus exclusively on college choice and applications at that point.


  • Hone extracurricular activities to focus on your passions and talents. These are often the things you will write about in your application essays!
  • Take diagnostic tests for the SAT and ACT. It’s the best time to make a plan and begin studying for your best-fit test. Why not get this out of the way early if possible?
  • Learn how to write. No, really, learn how to write! Even a couple of hours per month will set you up for success for your school exams and college applications. Often, this means you may need to review grammar concepts you learned a few years ago to keep them sharp.
  • Start preparing early for your APs or other classes you are taking next year! The grades for your classes this coming year will be the ones colleges use to judge your school performance.



Rising Seniors (1 more year until graduation)


Time to Deliver!


This is likely the busiest summer of your life so far. The more you can do the year before, the more you will thank yourself later.


  • Before the break, ask two teachers if they will write your recommendation letters.
  • Set up college visits and tours. Make sure to arrange them in advance.
  • Take official standardised tests if you haven’t already.
  • Do at least ONE activity that demonstrates leadership and initiative.
  • Dive head-first into college applications. Work on interview prep, essays (personal statement and supplementals), and application forms. By the end of summer, you should have done about 75% of the work involved in these.



High School Graduates (before starting college)


Transition & Reflection


  • Learn how to manage a personal budget. This is a huge one—many students don’t realize how important managing their money is until that first semester away from home.
  • Find future classmates using the college’s online portals and social media pages to start making some friends before you arrive!
  • Rest A LOT. You’ve earned it. And you’ll thank yourself during the first (sleepless) week of college.
  • Cherish some time with your family. For many students, it can be surprising just how much you’ll miss them once you’re away at college.