Choose your activities purposefully. Think about your interests and your passions. Are you on the rowing team? Maybe there’s a camp that could use you as a volunteer. Love to read and think you might pursue a degree in education? Maybe your church can help you find a tutoring job in center for needy kids. Consider a summer course at a nearby college. Most importantly, use this time to reflect on your interests and pursue them. Think quality over quantity and reassess your activities for the school year if necessary, taking on leadership roles in the areas you love and perhaps scaling back on the activities you don’t.
Begin Your Research
Get yourself a copy of the latest edition of Fiske Guide to Colleges. Keep it on your coffee table or kitchen island or any place you’re likely to leaf through it regularly. Visit college websites and spend some time exploring. Many schools have virtual tours. Take a look at the many online resources for college research as well.
Start to Think About College Visits
If you’re headed on summer vacation with your family and there’s an interesting college on the way, ask them to stop. While it’s ideal to visit colleges when school is in session, you’ll benefit from any and all visits (even if it’s just to say, “Yuk, I’d never go there.”).
Make a College Calendar
Devote a calendar solely for college planning. Ask your parents to set aside time now for visiting colleges during your junior school year, even if you don’t yet know what schools you’d like to see. Schedules fill up quickly for families who juggle multiple kids and their activities, so help your parents plan accordingly. Think about when you’ll take the SAT and ACT. How does the testing schedule fit in with your other activities?
Use Your Resources
Talk to your parents, relatives, older siblings and their friends about their college experience. What did they like and dislike? Why? Would they do anything differently if they could do it all over again?
The college planning process is best tackled one step at a time. It’s an exciting time in your life, but don’t forget to experience the present. Begin your college exploration, but enjoy your friends and family this summer as well!