3 Essential Summer Activities for Rising 10th through 12th Graders

At Complete College Advising (CCA), we believe that it is critical to utilize your summer breaks to prepare for the road ahead. In this blog post, we’ll explore three crucial activities rising 10th through 12th graders should engage in this summer to ensure a smooth transition to college.

So, let’s dive in!

Between 9th and 10th grades:

  1. Participate in academic camps, workshops or complete a job shadow in a career field that interests you. Choose an option that will provide hands-on learning experiences and academic challenges in specific areas of interest, such as STEM, humanities, or the arts.
    If you haven’t identified any potential careers to explore, CCA can help you identify ones that you will find interesting and that you can get paid well to do! 
  2. Attend at least 2 college fairs or information sessions.  Most colleges offer “open house” style events that are very relaxed and allow you to visit campus, meet some faculty, see the dorms, and try out the food.
    Pick 2 that are the most convenient for you. At this point it isn’t important that the school is on your short list; these visits will be more about learning how colleges function, what they value in admissions and what you value in a college or campus. This will help you narrow your actual college visit down the road.
  3. Pursue extracurricular activities, service, and leadership opportunities. Look for camps or volunteer opportunities that align with your interests. This is a great way to learn more about yourself, network, and potentially gain leadership experience- all while having fun!

Parent bonus tip: If you haven’t already, consult your financial planner about investments that will make paying for college easier.

Between 10th and 11th grades:

  1. Focus on test prep: While fewer schools require the SAT or ACT for admission, it is still important to get your best possible scores, as having a good score can only increase your chance for admission and scholarships. So, take some practice tests to identify areas for improvement and do some self-guided study at free websites like Khan Academy. If you really want to improve your scores, consider enrolling in test prep courses, either in-person or online, to familiarize yourself with the test format and learn effective strategies.
  2. Start exploring college options and requirements by researching colleges and universities. Create a list of potential colleges of interest and research their programs, admission requirements, campus culture, and financial aid options.
    You can keep track of college interest, visits and applications with the free, downloadable Complete College Advising College Comparison Spreadsheet.
  3. Visiting colleges and attending information sessions– this time making it schools that you have a genuine interest in attending. You will be applying to colleges only 10-14 months from now and it’s time to start creating the list of schools that you might genuinely wish to attend.
    Focus on why certain colleges stand out to you in a positive or negative way. For example, “Why did school X feel so comfortable?” The answers to these “Why” questions will give you valuable information about your preferences!

Between 11th and 12th grades:

  1. Research college requirements: Ensure that you are aware of the specific admission requirements, deadlines, and application components for each college you are applying to. Take note of essays, interviews, or portfolio submissions that may be required.
  2. Complete college applications and essays as early as possible. Begin working on your applications as soon as they become available. This will allow ample time to carefully craft your essays, gather necessary documents, and complete all sections accurately. Some colleges offer “Early Decision” (ED), which means that you will have a better chance of getting admitted if you apply sooner, rather than later.
    Not only that, but who want to have to choose between attending the big rivalry game, a cool school play and sitting down to write an essay once senior year has begun.

Parent tip: Students can apply to multiple schools at once using the Common Application which is available starting August 1.

  1. Start looking for scholarship opportunities that fit you and begin writing compelling essays. More than half of the students who are qualified for a scholarship will not apply if there is a paragraph or more of text required. If you start looking at the opportunities and writing the essays now, you will have time to get feedback from teachers, counselors, or trusted mentors to ensure your essays effectively convey who you are and why you are deserving.
    Keep track of scholarships that you plan to apply for with the free Complete College Advising Scholarship Tracking spreadsheet.

Parent tip: I’ve awarded over $10,000,000 in scholarships and helped to award over $25,000,000. This is a perfect time to schedule an advising session so that we can help your student document their accomplishments and/or review the essays they’ve written. Don’t leave this one to chance!

Conclusion: The Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, wrote, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Unfortunately, enrolling in college can often feel like an endless path with very poor signage. At CCA, we will be your advocate and ally, walking the path alongside you until you reach your college and career destinations. We will meet each semester and use the free tools above (and others) to make your journey as easy and enjoyable as possible.