Summer is probably the most anticipated season for high school students. Ample free time paired with warmer weather — what’s not to love? However, rising seniors should carefully consider their plans for summer vacation, as it is one of the last opportunities to prepare for college admissions and scholarship applications. Here are ten ways to maximize the last couple of months before the start of senior year:


Summer jobs help build a student’s resume by showing a dedicated work ethic and real-world experience. A job also serves as a great option to help save for college or simply have extra spending money. From retail to administration, there are plenty of job possibilities for high school students. Working students often have great examples to highlight when writing college essays, drafting applications, or interviewing for scholarships.


Like summer jobs, internships can provide valuable experience and learning opportunities. There are both paid and unpaid internships, and this is an especially good option for students that have a specific career track in mind. For example, a student interested in civil engineering may want to look into opportunities at local construction firms in order to gain industry knowledge early.


Many summer camps allow high school students to serve as counselors for younger kids. Working as a counselor is not only fun, but also a great growth opportunity. The chances to develop leadership skills are endless, from helping fifth graders learn to kayak to teaching arts and crafts.


Giving back to the community is a highly fulfilling way to spend the summer break. There are countless nonprofits that rely on volunteers to operate and are always looking for helping hands. Whether it’s helping out at the humane society five days a week or doing community cleanup every other weekend, there are volunteer opportunities to fit any schedule. This is an essential part of demonstrating both civic engagement and compassion on applications, but mostly it is a chance for a student to truly grow in character.


Most colleges require that students take either the ACT or SAT for admissions purposes. It is important to make time to prepare for either one of these tests, and summer vacation is a perfect opportunity as students typically have more free time. College applications are due in the fall, so there are limited testing opportunities after junior year. If a student hasn’t achieved his or her desired score by the summer before senior year, it is important to buckle down and begin preparing for the last few available test dates. The good news is that A-List has top-notch ACT and SAT tutoring. Check out our programs here.


Between balancing schoolwork, writing essays, and finalizing resumes, college application season can be stressful. It is helpful to already have a college list narrowed down prior to entering fall semester to take some of the pressure off. Summer break is a great time to visit college campuses and do online research to finalize a list.


Many college and scholarship applications require one or more essays. It is a good idea to get a head start by preparing a few drafts ahead of application season. Here are few common prompts for your student to consider:

  • Describe a time that you encountered a challenge or setback. What did you learn?
  • Describe a time when you experienced a failure and how you responded.
  • Reflect on a time when your beliefs or ideas were challenged.
  • Why do you want to attend college here?
  • Describe a problem you have solved or would like to solve in the future.
  • Discuss an accomplishment or event that had a great impact on you.


Often, students are hesitant when asked what they are going to major in. While there is no shame in being unsure of an intended career path, this uncertainty can make it difficult to know what classes to take and could result in higher college costs. Students can spend summer vacation shadowing professionals in fields they are interested in as well as researching different career opportunities. This is especially important if a student is considering a pre-professional track such as medicine or dentistry, since shadowing hours are usually required for professional school applications.


We already discussed working as a camp counselor, but what about attending camp? From space camp to robotics camp, there are many choices for rising seniors. Camps can range from weekend intensives to month-long learning experiences. These are great options to help students expand their knowledge or build specific skill sets. Furthermore, many colleges offer camps on their campuses. This could be a great way to both explore an option for a student’s college list and gain knowledge and experience in a specific topic.


Lastly, it is important that students spend free time pursuing topics and skills they are passionate about. For example, if a student loves to paint, he could see if it is possible to paint a series for display in a local art gallery. If a student loves to dance, she could attend dance intensives hosted by a local studio. Application committees prefer to see students that are well rounded and committed to their passions. Additionally, there is often limited time to explore interests and hobbies during college, so it is a good idea to take advantage of the free time available during summer break.

We hope this paints a clearer picture of what your student should focus on in the last few months leading into the busy senior year. If you would like additional help in preparing your student for college application season, our advisors have ample knowledge and resources to guide you through the process. You can call (646) 889-1613 or visit our advising page for more information!