Go Ask Mom

Have a plan: Summer tips for college-bound high school students

Colleges are looking for students who take the time to discover and commit to a few passions that really define who they are. Odds are you will be happier taking part in something that you love rather than something you feel just checks off a necessary box.

Posted Updated
Wendy Briley of Briley College Consulting
Wendy Briley of Briley College Consulting

Ahhhh ... classes are over. Time to sleep in, lounge by the pool, go to the beach.

Sounds like heaven doesn't it?

But (adults always have a but don't they!) summer can be so much more. I'm not saying you shouldn't sleep in, lounge by the pool and go to the beach a little. Maybe even a lot. You've worked hard all year and deserve a break! But (there's that but again) summer can also allow you to discover some cool things about yourself and about what you love. Things you may not have had time to do during your busy school year.

I'm not talking about jamming as many activities that you possibly can into a summer to try and show a college that you are that uber well-rounded student. Colleges are looking for students who take the time to discover and commit to a few passions that really define who they are. Odds are you will be happier taking part in something that you love rather than something you feel just checks off a necessary box.

Here are few tips to make the most of your summer!

Think about what you're passionate about

Don't know? Think about the things that you really enjoy. Are you that kid that knows every baseball statistic off the top of your head? Do you enjoy creating YouTube videos? Love to travel? Can't imagine not helping others in some way? Take time to discover what you care about.

Explore prospective majors through pre-college programs

Most colleges have some type of summer programming. These programs do not necessarily require you to commit for the whole summer. They vary on length, cost, topic and residency options. Some could be a few days, a week, etc. This exposure to an area of interest could open possibilities for future study. Visit college websites or ask your counselor about possible summer opportunities.

Job shadow

Do you know someone that has a really cool job and you think that it is something you might be interested in? Ask if you could spend the day observing what their job is really like. What better way to see the pros and cons? You might even discover other jobs that you did not know about, but seem interesting and are related.


Do you get great satisfaction from helping others? Imagine if you could combine that desire with an organization that really interests you. Double satisfaction! Do you love animals? Spend time volunteering at your local animal rescue. Are you creative and make things? Donate your items to local hospitals, shelters, etc. There are all kinds of ways to volunteer? Think outside the box!

Make your own opportunity

Is there something that you would really like to do? Look around your community. Offer your services for free. Interested in research? Contact your local college or university and offer to help in a lab. There are so many business eager for free help. Just think, not only are you learning about an area you are interested in, but you could possibly be networking for future internships and jobs!

Get a job

This sounds obvious, but you would be surprised by how many students don't understand the value of working during the summer. It allows you to be independent, teaches you about money management, self-responsibility, and work ethic (and you get a paycheck). A bonus would be if your job is related to a hobby, passion or a future area of study. An example: A student spent the summer working as a social media content manager for a small local business. She loved all that was involved in that job and is now majoring in marketing.

Don't dilly dally

A lot of pre-college programs, summer experiences and even part-time jobs have applications available now. Don't let someone take that opportunity from you. Start thinking about how you want your summer to go and act. I'm not saying that you can't spend some time sleeping in, lounging by by the pool, or going to the beach! Do it, but (there it is again) don't let your summer go by. Have a plan!

Wendy Briley, owner of Briley College Consulting, has helped families across the Triangle on the path to college. She covers all things related to college in her monthly newsletter.


Copyright 2024 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.