The Summer Senior

Navigating one’s senior year in high school is harrowing enough with all the decisions that need to be made, so at Dolphin Academic Prep, we advise that the best way to alleviate some of the stress is to start the process early, particularly the college process. Although, summer is traditionally considered to be the time when a student relaxes and has some down time, sometimes with the onset of the famed “senioritis”, it is important to remind the them that when trying to gain a competitive edge these days, it becomes crucial to not lose valuable time and it’s essential to be active and productive. Losing momentum at this time could lose the “summer senior” the advantage needed to ensure they get into their desired college.

For the “summer senior” who has not previously taken the SAT or ACT, they may want to retake either one or want to take one of the SAT Subject Tests, the summer before their senior year, usually devoid of school year distractions and commitments, provides a terrific opportunity for students to prepare. It allows them the chance to be more focused so they can do their best. To accomplish this, our team at Dolphin Academic Prep has come up with a few tips on what your student can do during the summer to keep active and be in the best condition possible to fully maximize their potential. They advise that exercising, reading, and keeping an active journal is a good starting point. Along with those, they recommend that your student utilize the summer to build an impressive resume for college applications to help bolster and maximize their chances of being accepted in to the institution of their choice. To do this, have your student partake in a hobby, volunteer and/or collaborate on a project or a cause that holds meaning. Essentially, it’s important to keep a balance between prepping over the summer, being active and having fun.

Here are a few steps a “summer senior” can take to remain focused and get an early start on the college process:

(1) Research

With today’s day and age, almost everything is accessible at one’s fingertips due to the convenience of the internet. That being the case, start by researching different colleges and their academic programs and to get additional info, enroll in the college’s mailing list. Next, determine venues where college fairs are being held and check them out in person; talk to a rep from each college and ask any questions you may have. Once you’ve determined a college of interest, try visiting it in person and get a feel for it yourself as you’re more likely to get a different perspective than from what you’ve read on college’s website or brochure.

Another important thing to research, and one that many students don’t take advantage of, is outside private scholarships. Surf the web or go to your local library and research the tens-of-thousands of scholarships that are out there; find out the qualifications that need to be met, what’s required for each and the deadline for submission so that you can start applying accordingly. Don’t forget to map out each deadline so you don’t forget any – deadlines have a tendency of creeping up at the last moment!

(2) Finances

Money can be a major factor so decide on what you potentially can afford and what you can’t. Discuss it with your family and if your family has an accountant, involve them to determine if and how much financial aid will be needed. Start learning about FAFSA and the process that is involved with it. Remember, there are a lot of factors that will determine how much assistance will be needed. It’s really up to the college to determine how much the overall cost will be to attend. Many institutions provide students with scholarships or grants so those are possibilities that should be researched as they may help alleviate part of the cost. Also, take in to consideration any private scholarships from outside companies or organizations that have been applied too and received.

(3) Stay Active

The summer is a great time for a student to become involved in a few extracurricular activities, such as swimming or playing an instrument, in which they hold an interest; these activities would then serve as an asset on their college resume and application. The important thing is that whatever they become involved in should be something that they remain involved in for not only the summer, but also throughout the school year. The main reason for this is that colleges are more likely to be impressed with continuity rather than something short-lived and sporadic. Extracurricular activities don’t only have to be hobbies, but could even be in the form of community service or volunteering somewhere, such as at a local hospital, food bank or soup kitchen. The key is to not be involved in too much that it runs one ragged but just enough to strengthen the college resume.

(4) Map It Out & Prepare

Senior year will be full of tests so sit down with a calendar and map out particular test dates, such as those for the SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, AP exams and potential school tests, such as midterms and final exams. Our consultants, at Dolphin Academic Prep, recommend that students utilize the summer to prepare for these tests when they need to be taken during their senior year. As parents, support your student’s desire and effort to practice and prepare so that they can do well and help any way you possibly can. Also, keep in mind that some colleges may require SAT Subject Tests so learn the requirements and deadlines of the colleges of interest and plan accordingly. Don’t forget to also incorporate any college visits, financial aid and scholarships deadlines to this mapping to avoid any congestion in the calendar.

(5) Keep It Up

One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to ensure that your student does not lose motivation. Sit down and discuss with them the courses they’re planning on taking and ensure that the curriculum is challenging enough so colleges don’t feel they’re slacking off during their senior year. It’s important that your student keep up their grade point average and continue to do well. At Dolphin Academic Prep, we work one-on-one with your student and can help them manage their time more efficiently and effectively while at the same time helping them do well in school, thus alleviating some of the associated stress.

It’s never too early to start thinking about the college process and the steps mentioned will help start you on the right path. If your student has not done so already, it’s important that they introduce themselves and get to know their guidance counselor as they are the ones generally writing the college recommendation letters. Most counselors have a large number of students they’re responsible for, so it’s always best to make an appointment, if needed. In the meantime, to learn more about the college admission process and how to prep for the test required for them, such as the SAT, ACT or SAT Subject Tests, call us at 646.490.5075.