That Summer Before Senior Year

As consumed by finals as you may be (or may not be, if you’re an intelligent senior… I am not one of those), you can start finding solace in the fact that the end is near. I’m talking breakfasts at 11:00 a.m. Afternoons by the beach. Evenings catching up on every Netflix movie that you somehow haven’t seen yet. Summer 2015, here we come!

But before you let the days breeze by, there are some activities worth planning into your two months that will make senior year just a little bit easier.

1. Volunteer

Summer is the best time to try your hand at giving back. There are so many different opportunities out there, and with more time in your day, it’s easy and rewarding to fit in an early environmental cleanup, or a couple hour shift at an animal shelter. While this will obviously look good on your approaching college applications (we’ll talk about those momentarily), it will also serve as the perfect way to add structure and meaning to your otherwise open schedule.

2. Start the Journey


You probably knew this one was coming (also – I’m not sure why the photo is of hippos, but, hey, let’s go with it). I cannot stress how beneficial it will be to you to begin narrowing in on what kinds of things you are looking for in schools and, even, where you want to apply. The Common Application (which is used by the vast majority of colleges country-wide) and the UC Application both typically open around August 1st. Use this to your advantage. Read over the essay prompts and get to brainstorming, outlining, writing down thoughts. Fill in the easy parts to at least get your feet wet. There truly is nothing worse than entering your senior year panicked and overwhelmed, so let yourself start asking those soul-searching questions: Do I want to stay in my home state the next four years? What sort of college experience am I looking for? How will I fathom living without my dog? (That last one still gets me).

3. Visit Schools

Once you claim your throne at the top of the high school food chain (think this only less Game of Thrones-y…),


you’ll find that you’re actually kind of busy – at least for that first semester. And with the exception of winter break (which is when most applications are due), you won’t have a lot of days off to travel and tour potential colleges. If you aren’t in the position to pay for airfare or anything of the like, look into summer-road-tripping to campuses nearby. They very well may be schools that you have zero interest in attending, but walking around them will give you a better idea of what your preferences are regarding architecture, dining halls, college towns, etc.

4. Find a Job

Similar to volunteering, working keeps you in a nice routine to prevent that weird, mid-summer limbo where you’re partway bored but also partway too unmotivated to do anything about it. Holding a job lets you meet new people, earn points from colleges, and learn the kinds of skills that can be hugely helpful in building your resume for the summers following. Plus, you know, money…


5. SAT/ACT Prep

Maybe you are signed up for official “classes,” or maybe you are utilizing the amazing online resources (like Magoosh!) to prepare. Either way, setting aside a few hours a week to study can really move you closer to your target score. I’d personally highly encourage you to pick a day of the week (for me it was Sunday) to sit down and take full practice tests – timed breaks and all. My neighbor and I (it’s way less horrible if you go through it with a buddy) ended up self-proctoring roughly four SAT exams, and they were fundamental to my success come September.

It is, obviously, near impossible to manage all five of these things while still enjoying your brief liberation from high school. So pick and chose. Tailor your two months to best fit not only your passions but also your application weaknesses. It’s certainly no daunting task to spend a summer that’s as productive as it is blissfully fun.


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  • Elise Gout

    Elise writes articles for the Magoosh SAT blog to help teenagers during an exciting time in their lives. Despite residing in Southern California, where she attends San Dieguito Academy high school, she has no surfing abilities whatsoever; it’s actually rather sad. She is your typical senior high school girl who sword fights daily, and is pretty much convinced that bananas are a food sent from heaven. Elise will attend Columbia University next fall to study environmental science.

By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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