Must-Do Tasks for the Summer Before Every Year of High School 

Completing a few crucial tasks during the summer can give teens a leg up when the school year starts. 

“You have all of these teachers coming at you on day one with what’s required in their courses and you are just trying to stay afloat,” says Melanie Hall, an elective teacher and program coordinator for AVID, a college readiness program, at Grand Prairie High School in Texas. 

Students who make a plan over the summer can revisit and grow with it, taking it piece by piece, she says, which can help them accomplish their goals more efficiently.

Teens can complete the following tasks during the summer before each year of high school to prepare for what lies ahead. 

Rising freshmen

Students could get involved in a high school activity, such as a fall sport or marching band, over the summer to get to know other students before school starts, says Scott Koebel, a school counselor at Newark High School in Ohio. 

He also recommends students sit down with a parent, or perhaps a school counselor, and put together rough drafts of four-year course and extracurricular plans for high school that students can tweak over the years. There’s value in starting to see the big picture, he says. Along with that, students should consider setting a couple short and long-term goals for high school.

Reading and writing for fun should also be on a rising freshman’s summer agenda too, says Hall. She encourages students to find books that will help them become better leaders or grow as people. She recommends “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.”

Rising sophomores

Soon-to-be 10th-graders are still too young to get a job, says Hall, but they can take part in community service. 

This is a good summer for career exploration, Koebel says, because it’s before students really get into the college application process. Students could fill out career interest inventories or take part in a job shadowing experience, he says.

Hall says journaling is a good way for students to reflect on their college and career goals this summer. 

Rising juniors

Students may want to visit some colleges over the summer, says Koebel. And while there are drawbacks to visiting schools this time of year – students won’t see the campus with all the students there – admissions staff may be less busy and prospective students may receive more personal attention, he says. 

If students can’t visit schools over the summer, they should make plans to visit schools during their junior year, Koebel says. Students could follow colleges they are interested in on social media to get a feel for the school too, he says. 

And teens who are working or volunteering this summer should try to do so in a field that interests them, Hall says. 

Rising seniors

The summer before senior year is focused on activities related to completing college applications for many students. Rising seniors should refine and finalize college application essays, resumes and other materials over the summer, and work on creating them if they haven’t gotten started yet, says Hall.

Students should also identify which areas they need to improve upon to get into their dream schools, Hall says. Some students may need to retake the SAT or ACT, for example.

Koebel recommends students finalize where they want to apply. Students can also determine which teachers to ask for recommendation letters and reach out to teachers about them toward the end of the summer. 

Regardless of their year in school, students can search and apply for scholarships over the summer, Hall says. And read and write.

By Alexandra Pannoni

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