- Start your initial test prepping: Take a practice SAT and ACT test and try to determine which test or tests you plan to take. Talk to your guidance counselor if available over the summer to come up with a plan. Sign up for the SAT Question of the Day and/or the ACT Question of the Day to help you practice. Think about the test prep choices available to you, including independent study, review books, online programs and group classes at your high school, local library or community center. If you plan to work with a tutor, research your options— ask your friends and classmates for recommendations. Your teachers and guidance counselor may also have suggestions.
- Make yourself a testing schedule: look at the SAT and ACT test dates and registration deadlines for the upcoming school year. Think about your commitments and family obligations and plan to take the tests on dates that don’t create any conflicts.
- Work on your personal profile: Think about how you spend your time outside the classroom and what you enjoy doing. Identify activities you’d like to deepen your commitment to and which new ones you’d like to explore. Create a list of your extracurricular activities so far, including clubs, athletics, community service, and work and summer experiences. Also, list awards and competitions in which you’ve participated. Keep your list up to date because you’ll need to provide this information on your applications.
- Open a Common Application account: The Common App is available if you would like to take a first look. Once you open your account, any information you fill in can be saved. It’s early but if you choose, you can begin with items such as your personal information and extracurriculars.
- Begin researching schools: A good place to start is your friends and family— talk to those who’ve been through the college process recently. Your guidance counselor is a great resource and can point you in the right direction. Buy or borrow, from the library, a college search book to get basic admissions facts and student feedback. Start your online research by reviewing school websites. Look through the admissions and financial aid sections and explore academic programs, course offerings and majors. Read about clubs, activities, special events and athletics and use the virtual tour tools. Use the many online websites available and follow college bound blogs for helpful information and resources. Familiarize yourself with the different types of schools— urban, suburban and rural; small, medium and large; public and private; and liberal arts and research oriented. Summertime campus visits can help you get a good feel for the school.
- Do something interesting: Work. Intern. Volunteer. Read. Travel. Take a class at a university. Participate in a research project. Summer is the time to explore your interests and to have new experiences!