Temperatures are rising, trees are lush with green leaves and summer vacation will begin very soon! Summer is the time of year most high school students spend the other nine months wishing for, but early and mid-May can often be the worst time as you’re overwhelmed with papers to write and exams to take.
But when summer finally comes, the sweet feeling of freedom can be exhilarating! Until boredom strikes, and you feel unproductive. You went from being completely overworked to totally under-stimulated. So what are you going to do with all of this free time? Here’s a helpful list of things you should do during the summer before your senior year of high school.
1. Study for the ACT/SAT this summer
It doesn’t matter if you’ve already taken the test once or twice already. Studying for the SAT or ACT over the summer and then taking one or both tests again in the fall can be a really good idea. If you took the SAT/ACT in the spring, chances are that you studied for it on the weekends between writing papers, studying for tests and going to practice for your extracurricular activities. Even if you have a job during the summer, you probably still have more free time than you do during the school year. Take advantage of it and study for a little bit each day — it will pay off come the fall! If you need some help developing a study plan, the College Board has some incredible resources. Check them out here. Be aware that at Marymount University, we don’t consider SAT/ACT scores for admission or scholarship purposes.
2. Make a “Top 5” list
As the fall draws near, it’s important to figure out where you may want to apply for college. Use the summer to narrow or grow your list of schools. We recommend coming up with a top five list and doing a good amount of research on the five schools you’re most interested in attending. Learn about their programs, their resources for incoming first-year students and more.
3. Visit college campuses
After you’ve made your top five list, visit as many of the schools as you can. The campus visit is a must, and plays a very important role in the college decision process — you’re choosing your home for the next four years. If you talk to any college student about why they chose their school, they might say something like, ‘it was the perfect fit’ or ‘it just felt right.’ How did they find this perfect school? By visiting! Although the fall might be a more lively time to visit, it’s also very busy. Take advantage of the extra free time that summer offers and go on a college road trip with your friends and/or parents.
4. Go to the library
Remember those things called books? Challenge yourself to read more this summer (whether you use physical or digital books), not just for academic purposes but for pleasure. It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself a reader or not — take some time to relax on the beach or wherever your sweet spot is, and get lost in the pages of adventure, romance and science fiction. Here’s a list of 50 books that every high school student should read before going to college!
5. Try a college class
The typical high school curriculum focuses on fundamentals you need to know before going to college. You may have had a few opportunities to take elective classes, but learning a new subject on top of all the other stressors of high school probably isn’t at the top of your list. Being exposed to new areas of study before graduating from high school can help you decide what to focus your college studies on (even if it’s by process of elimination). Marymount’s summer programs allow high school students to choose from subjects such as engineering, journalism, biology and criminal justice. Learn more about our summer class options for high school students here.
6. It’s summer — have fun!
Finally, don’t forget to have fun! If all you do this summer is stress and work, work and stress, by the time the fall rolls around you’ll be exhausted. It’s essential that you take some time for adventure. Go exploring to a new part of the country with friends, go on a camping trip, take a dance class at a local recreational center, etc. If you’re going to be in the D.C. area this summer, take a look at this website and be amazed at all of the fun and free activities there are in our nation’s capital.
Make this summer one to remember and not one to regret. By balancing productivity with joyous adventures, you are sure to have a delightful three months. Take advantage of the opportunities for internships, jobs and volunteer work that will likely come your way, but be sure to not overwhelm yourself. Your senior year is just around the corner, and you’ll want to enter your last year as a high school student with gusto! The future is exciting — be diligent, seek adventure and embrace opportunities, and you will have nothing to worry about.