Rising Senior Summer

Picture of a lake with the words, "Making the Most of Your Rising High School Senior Summer"

Rising Senior Summer

As the weather warms up, so can the pressure from parents, teachers, and others about your upcoming senior year and looming college application process.

Stay calm and check out these seven tips for a summer that takes the heat off: 

Writing your essays in the summer allows you to spend your senior fall focusing on school and life outside the classroom, rather than angsting over your introductory paragraph.

Summer visits often get a bad rap because fewer students are on campus. While this may be true at some schools, summer visits are still a way to rule places in or out.

If a school is in a town you don’t like or has too much green grass or gothic architecture for your taste, that’s not going to change if students are walking around and leaves are falling. Often, advisors and faculty (if you give them advance notice) have more time in the summer to meet and talk, as do admission officers. You can revisit while school’s in session after you are admitted, or in the fall to confirm you want to apply.

It’s summer, so maybe that’s “poolwork.” Regardless, this is the season for narrowing your college list and determining exactly where you want to apply.

Use resources like BigFuture or CollegeView as well as less conventional tools such as Reddit or College Confidential. The more pieces you compile, the better cumulative picture you will have of a place.

It’s summer. Enjoy. The truth is, you don’t need to put your summer calendar into an optimized spreadsheet to enjoy your senior year or have a good plan for applying to colleges.

Ultimately, there is no perfect formula. A certain enrichment camp, mission trip, or particular internship isn’t going to “get you in” to a specific school. So, this summer don’t think too much about a high GPA — do think about a high SPF.

Gotta love “work” coming right after “relax.” You have an opportunity every summer, but particularly right before your final year in high school, to get a sense of the type of job you might ultimately want.

Even if you don’t land a paying job, maybe you can work out a deal to get in 10 to 15 hours a week volunteering at a local business or organization. Being in a professional environment will give you a sense of what you may or may not want to pursue. 

What do you love? What is the most interesting topic for you in school or the world? Look around and see if a local university or community college is offering a course in that subject area. Not only might you earn college credit for that subject, but you’ll get a good sense of the rigor and pace of a college course.

Schedule too tight? How about a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)? Many colleges and universities in the future could include a MOOC as an entrance requirement. What better way to stretch your knowledge of a field and also grow as a learner than taking a course in this format? 

Reach out to an older student you know who just finished senior year. Ask them fresh off their admission search and decision making process about lessons learned, tips, etc.

Extra Credit: Find someone coming home after freshman year in college. There is often no better resource for insight into a college — especially one farther from home — than an older student who once sat in your high school and adjusted to that living and learning environment from your hometown. If you end up getting a date out of this, you can send thanks to @gtadmission


Writer: Rick Clark
Editor: Margaret Tate
Digital Design: Erica Endicott, Brett Lorber