The summer between junior and senior years is an important time to really get college planning momentum going. While you naturally want to kick back and have fun over the summer, it’s important to mix that fun with some serious college-oriented legwork.
After all, planning ahead will ensure a smoother college-application process and more time to enjoy the end of your high school career — including prom, big games, and other senior activities you won’t want to miss.
Get started with these to-dos.
Choosing a job.
When you’re seeking a part-time job, remember that jobs can offer more than just a chance to earn money. Consider positions that may be somewhat tied to a future career. For example, a student who’s interested in becoming a teacher may want to look for work in a daycare or youth camp program. Students who are interested in medicine may want to consider volunteering in a hospital or shadowing a doctor.
Opening a checking account.
Start building your money smarts by opening a checking account. Taking responsibility for your finances is a great way to become more independent and is especially important if you’re earning a paycheck. By learning to budget and creating good money habits, you’ll feel more confident about managing your money in college.
Talking about college costs.
As you narrow down your college application list, discuss how your family plans to pay for college and how to be proactive. If you plan to borrow funds, begin working on your FAFSA, which can be submitted as early as October 1. You can also reference the 5 Step Guide to Paying for College to see how to get a head start on saving for college.
Searching for scholarships.
Students should begin their scholarship search in earnest the summer before senior year. Plan to complete any applications that can be done at this time, and start bookmarking links and keeping track of the names and due dates for scholarships that need to be completed in the future.
To get started with your online scholarship search, visit Tuition Funding Sources. This website offers students access to one of the largest scholarship databases with over $41 billion in scholarship awards, along with a career personality test and detailed college and career information.
Planning your senior year schedule.
Take some time over the summer to review your senior year class schedule. Consider your course load and whether it’s well-balanced. You want your classes to be challenging, of course, but not so overwhelming that they lead to burnout. If you sense that changes might need to be made, prepare for that, so you aren’t scrambling at the beginning of the school year.
Touring college campuses.
The summer before senior year is the ideal time to take campus tours, as you and your family may have more time off to travel. If you have several campuses to visit, consider scheduling a family vacation around these tours.
Senior year is typically a very busy time, so remember to stay on track with college planning during the summer. Once school starts and the college countdown really begins, you’ll be glad you did.
She’s experienced in planning and paying for college both as a student and parent. With one child through college and two more a few years away from it, she is right there with you on the college-planning journey. A creative pro with years logged in journalism, public relations, and marketing, she’s been writing for the College Planning Blog since its launch in 2006.