Summer is an excellent time of year for high school students to prepare for college. Below are a few tips to making sure your child is ready for college after high school graduation. It’s never too early to start so don’t wait until your senior year to get ready. Take a moment and write out your academic and personal goals for the summer and upcoming school year and incorporate some of the tips below.
- Take a foreign language class or learn a foreign language in the summer. Many schools offer foreign language courses during the school year but these are much more difficult to find in the summer. However, you can check out books and videos from the library and learn on your own.
- Engage in a hobby or specialized skill. If your child likes to write, spend an hour a day writing and creating a portfolio of short stories, novellas, poetry or whatever they like to write. If your child likes to cook, spend an hour a day preparing a meal for the family or trying a new recipe to share with friends. If your child likes sports, spend an hour a day working out, practicing ball-handling skills, running sprints, etc. Look for a mentor or coach who can give your child one-on-one guidance and expertise in that area.
- Attend a summer camp or program. There are many camps such as music camps, sport camps, academic camps, art camps, science camps, etc. Find one they are interested in and make the investment for them to attend. Many of these programs/camps have deadlines in the spring so get an early start to see what’s available.
- Study for standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT. Students should NOT wait until their sophomore or junior year to take test tests. They should take these tests as early as ninth grade if not sooner. The earlier they are exposed to the tests, the longer they have to adjust to the test and improve their score. It also allows them time to see areas of weakness so they can concentrate on those areas. There are many FREE resources online and at the library to begin studying for these tests. Check out www.actstudent.org or google ‘free ACT prep resources’. Additionally, Kaplan offers a course which guarantees score improvement.
- Begin looking at colleges of interest and visit them. Do research on each school and see if it’s a good fit for your child. What are the standardized test score requirements? How much financial aid do they give out? Where is the school located? Is it a large school or small school? Do they offer the major your child is interested in studying? Do they offer support groups (tutoring, clubs/organizations, First Year Experience program)?
- Begin saving money for books, supplies, etc. Ideally, your child will receive a scholarship(s) or financial aid package but sometimes these awards do not cover books, fees, etc. Get an early start saving money for these expenses. Books for one semester can cost $800-$1,000 of out-of-pocket money.
- Job shadow or complete an internship. Find someone in the field your child is interested in pursuing and ask to job shadow them one or two days a week in the summer. This will provide invaluable experience and help your child decide if he/she really wants to pursue that field of study. It will also allow him/her to develop a relationship with someone who may be a good mentor or someone who can offer advice and resources. Internships are also available for high school students. If there aren’t any available in your hometown, check the neighboring hometown or larger cities. Some internships are paid, while others are not, but the experience is what’s most important.
- Make sure your child is taking advanced or college-prep high school classes. Many schools offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses where the student takes an accelerated/advanced course and in some cases can receive college credit if he/she makes a certain score on the exit exam. Colleges look for advanced classes on transcripts and it gives the student a competitive edge. Some high schools also offer dual-enrollment courses where the student receives high school and college credit at the same time for certain courses.
- Make sure your child maintains at least a “B” average in his/her classes. Beginning in ninth grade, all grades are recorded on a student’s permanent transcript which follows them to college. Colleges look for a GPA of 3.0 or better, especially when looking to award scholarships.
- Encourage involvement in extracurricular activities such as sports, band, choir, church, clubs/organizations, etc. Colleges are looking for students who are well-rounded. They want students who can balance academic work with extracurricular activities. If your child’s grades begin to drop, make sure they can handle being involved in activities or cut back on activities.
Get ready, get set and GO! Share this information with other parents, grandparents and high schoolers.
~Coletta Jones Patterson
~Coletta Jones Patterson