Pre-HS Senior Year Notes

summer tasks for rising HS seniors

Have your made any "after high school" plans such as college or other advanced education?

  • research job trends
  • explore careers
  • understand your aptitude for certain careers
  • prepare for college exams
  • search for colleges
  • compare colleges
  • get the college application ready

    If no, you need to get going FAST. Deadlines are in the Fall. You need to have this information ready in order to find and apply to the right college program.
    Jump to our "late starter file" to catch up

Search for Colleges

summer tasks for rising HS seniors

(all links open new window)

It's time to review your college search and narrow your selection down to those schools that meet your career objectives. Meet with your school's guidance counselor to discuss your decision.

Your search categories include:

  1. search list of 2-3 schools that you could definitely get in
  2. search list of 4-5 schools that you could probably get in
  3. search list of 7-8 schools that you would like to get in

You should budget on how much you can afford for application submission. If the application submission costs for 16 or more schools is too much. Narrow your search to 3-3-3.

search 4-year colleges-universities
search community colleges
search online schools and programs
search vocational and career schools

Understand Types of Schools

(all links open new window for easy back-n-forth reference)

  • Colleges:
    generally smaller in size. They offer 4-year degree programs (BA and BS) and many 2-year Associate degrees.
  • Universities:
    larger institutions with specialized degrees in business, engineering, pre-med, etc. They offer 2-year, 4-year, and many graduate and professional degrees.
  • Community / Junior Colleges:
    a small college offering 2-year Associate degrees. Many students attend local community colleges with the intent to transfer to a larger institution to further their education.
  • Online Programs:
    offered by small and large accredited universities. Programs are offered online with potentially some campus visit during the online course.
  • Vocational / Career Schools:
    specialized schools of training for specialized trade jobs such as mechanics, computer technicians, medical assistants, etc.

    Programs may vary requiring only a few weeks to complete while others may require a year or more. Upon completion, graduates will receive a license, certificate or an Associate Degree.

What Should You Look For in a School

(all links open new window for easy back-n-forth reference)

  • Private or Public:
    private schools are generally more expensive - but many of them are ranked as some of the best schools for graduate hires. Public schools are generally less expensive and in some cases, much larger.
  • Size:
    universities like the Big-10 can have enrollments of 40K+ students. These big universities have large classroom sizes for starting undergrads. Smaller schools have a better teacher-to-student ratio; however, their curriculum may not be as extensive as larger schools.
  • Location:
    some schools are in urban settings; other schools are situated on isolated campus locations. If you select an urban setting, issues such as safety come into play. Schools on isolated campuses may not have the urban amenities that may be for your liking.
  • Type of Curriculum:
    larger schools have a wide array of curriculum that is ideal for students not knowing off hand what they want to major in. But if you are leaning towards one major or another, your task is to find the school that ranks high in your base of education
  • Quality of Education:
    every major 4-year institution has one area where they are strong while their other programs may be weak. Again, you need to view rankings and reviews from other attending students
  • Cost:
    cost is a factor in any college selection. Your goal is to avoid accumulating a massive debt upon graduation. There are schools that offer exceptional education at a lower cost. Make sure you compare all costs when selecting your college - including cost of tuition, fees, housing, supplies, and transportation cost for a trip home during the holidays.
  • Admission Requirements:
    most schools have standard admittance requirements. But there are schools that give higher weightings to SAT test scores vs. ACT text scores. So check your school entrance exam requirements prior to submitting your application.
  • Help with Financial Aid:
    financial aid includes grants, scholarships, work study, student loans and other aid resources to defray the total cost of education. Review peer reviews on the quality of the financial aid services of one school over another.
  • Housing Resources:
    it is true that some schools have poor or no housing services available; it is entirely up to you to find housing - especially in urban schools. Housing can go fast. So if you decide on a school, get your housing requirements settled quickly.
  • Nearby Facilities:
    campus life can be a lot of fun, but you may want to get away from the "campus feeling". So check around for facilities such as outdoor recreation, urban amenities, and other entertainment..
  • Campus Life:
    what is campus life at one school over another? You best option is to visit the campus, review the facilities, and review peer groups from current students. You may find that some schools are quite boring.
  • Security:
    a key issue to review, especially with urban schools that often invite criminal activities. But note that even the isolated campuses have problems. View the security safety features that the college offers, especially when your visit the campus.
  • Lifestyle:
    now what this? Well if you attend a religious-affiliated school, certain activities may not be permissible. On the other hand, if you attend a very liberal leaning university, you may find the lifestyle a bit too much. Again, review peer reviews and other online information regarding campus lifestyle and activities.

Study College Exams

summer tasks for rising HS seniors

(all links open new window)

Register to take your college entrance exams for next Fall, if you have not done so already. Check your college listing or guidance counselor for information.

Colleges require different college entrance exams. You need to check with your college to determine which exam to take. Many students will sit for both exams to make sure they meet qualifications for all colleges.

Make sure test scores will be sent to your select colleges when you register for the exams.

Discuss with your guidance counselor about the college entrance exams that will be administered this Fall. Don't miss the registration deadlines.


Get Ready for the Exams

(all links open new window for easy back-n-forth reference)

College Entrance Exams:

Colleges require different college entrance exams. You need to check with your college to determine which exam to take.

There are two types of exams:

  1. SAT:

    SAT Reasoning
    The SAT Reasoning Test is a three-hour test that measures a student's ability to reason problems instead of general knowledge. It has three sections: writing, critical reading, and math. Most of the questions are multiple-choice.

    SAT Subject Tests
    The SAT Subject Tests measure the student's knowledge in specific subjects: English, mathematics, history, science, and languages. SAT Subject Tests are primarily multiple-choice, and each lasts one hour.

    more information:

  2. ACT:
    The ACT Assessment® is used by some colleges. The exam has four multiple-choice tests: English, reading, mathematics, and science reasoning.

    more information:


Preparation Guides:

  1. PSAT (practice exams):
    the PSAT is the test prep exam for the SAT tests. The PSAT is usually offered in October and November through your school. Check with your school counselor for dates.
    see for information

  2. ACT test preparation:
    some colleges use the ACT test. You need to check your college to determine which test they use for admittance.

  3. Kaplan Testing Services:
    Kaplan offers online and in-room simulation tests with guidance on weak points that need to be improved.

  4. Buy college entrance exam prep books:
    SAT/ACT exam prep and samples

Prepare for the College Application

summer tasks for rising HS seniors

(all links open new window)

The summer is a good time to get your college application started.

Fill out as much information you have online. Save it. Then come back later to revise or fill in the blanks.


Key Elements of the Application

(all links open new window for easy back-n-forth reference)

College Application:

Request an application form from each of your colleges. You can find it online or request it from the school.

The package will include the application form, submission requirements (essays, transcripts and other) and self-addressed envelopes for the letters of recommendations.

Many schools use the COMMON application form for application submission. Using the COMMON application form saves you time from completing multiple application forms:
see form at

You can save the COMMON application form online until you are ready to submit it electronically to participating schools

Or get the application from your school — link to your college to submit your application form online or to request a application packet:
use our college search directory for your school's web site

Early Decision Note:
you need to decide if you are going to do early admission.

If so, you will need to have your application completed and ready to submit between October and November of your senior year.

  • The advantage of early decision is that you will know whether you have been accepted by early January.
  • The disadvantage of early decision is that you may be legally bound to attend that school if you are accepted.

So decide on early decisions for schools that are your first choice.


College Essays:

Your college admissions application will most likely require 1- 2+ essays. Use the weekends to write and edit your essays.

Note that the essay is an important decisional parameter for college admission. So take this seriously.

Essay resource and editing services:
use this resource to edit your essay — you will expert advice from professionals who are experts in college essay review

Quick view: essay writing tips and samples


College Recommendations:

Most college admissions require 1-2 recommendations from teachers and/or community leaders.

Select who should write your recommendation. Give the person plenty of time (about 3-4 weeks prior to your deadline).

Also provide them a short autobiography, a list of your outside activities, school transcript and a self-addressed envelope as instructed by your college.

Please note that the teacher works with hundreds of students. So give them plenty of time.


School Transcripts:

Double check your transcripts when you start your senior year. You will need to forward these transcripts to colleges for admission review.

Make sure you have the following:

  • all grades are posted correctly
  • all required courses for graduation are listed
  • all required courses for college admittance are listed

It is important that these transcripts are correct and up-to-date. If not, meet with school administration to fix any errors.



Take a swim, tennis, karate or other class over the fall semester (either with your school or community group). You want to show well-roundness in your application.

Just the right amount of studies (with good grades) and outside activities. Don't think that a lot of extracurricular activities are a must. You just need to show a balance.

How to build a well-rounded character?

FREE Download
Complete guide on discipline and character building. Has illustrations on the building blocks of success.

view our "building success" module

Summer College Visits

summer tasks for rising HS seniors

(all links open new window)

The summer is a good time to schedule college visits and interviews. These college appointments will go fast, so start early by contacting your college of choice:

Start with a virtual tour:
this is good place to start prior to making an actual visit:

or visit the college web site for a tour and map: college directory

Tips When Visiting a Campus

(all links open new window for easy back-n-forth reference)

Take notes and pictures when visiting a campus. This will help you make a comparison when it comes time to make a final decision:

  • Plan to visit the college for a full day.
    Attend when the school is in session, if possible.
  • Arrange an interview with the admission office
    or other "campus visit" groups
  • Meet with the financial aid office
    to get all related financial aid information offered by that school
  • When doing a visit,
    check out the library, student unions, sporting facilities, and academic centers. Walk the campus to familiarize yourself with the layout.
  • Review housing facilities and dormitories
    to determine whether to live on-campus or off-campus housing. Note the college rules for housing. Some colleges require first-time Freshmen to live in dormitories.
  • Schedule time to speak with students and faculty. Visit the clubs and societies that are part of the campus life. Check campus rules, safety programs, and facilities that maintain the safety of the campus.
  • Drive around the surrounding community
    to familiarize yourself with restaurants, theaters, rec areas, job opportunities, etc.

Decide Your College Major

summer tasks for rising HS seniors

(all links open new window)

Take the summer to review your career interest once again to help decide your college major. See if anything has changed to help match the college to your career goal:

  • Evaluate Your Career Interests:
    your first step in finding the right career is to evaluate what you would like to do and what career fits your overall aptitude
  • Understand your interests and career relationship:
    online career assessments for a small fee
    Strong Interest Inventory®

Explore What's Required for Your Career

(all links open new window for easy back-n-forth reference)

See what will be required in order to achieve your dream:

  • Visit for in-depth review of collegiate majors.
    Requires log-in:

    What do you want to be?
    Interest measurement based on varying fields of study:
  • Do you have the aptitude skills for your selected major?
    Learn more about this Vocational Aptitude exam that measures several aptitudes in mathematics, general science, reasoning, and other.

    The exam is used by the armed forces in place candidates in select career fields — by taking the exam, however, does not imply that you are enlisting for any armed service:

Could you become a Wall Street trader?
Test your skills!


Go to: September Calendar

Begin Side Navigation

Make It Happen!


By building the discipline in four distinct character traits.

1) physical
2) educational
3) social
4) spiritual

Open Module

Making the Move!

college textbooks

What do you need when you move to college?

1) bed sheets
2) toothbrush
3) cooling fan
4) medicine box
5) hand vac
6) plus so much more

Grab our college moving checklist to help you pack for the big move

FREE: Moving Checklist

Save on Textbooks

college textbooks

The cost of college textbooks can run as high as $800-$1,000 or more per semester. So shop around for:

1) new textbooks
2) used textbooks
3) rental textbooks

Shop and compare best deals from multiple online merchants.

Go To Bookstore

Job Center

job center

So what kind of jobs are availabe in your study at college?

Let's take a look to see if opportunities in your field are available and what skills sets you need:

Link to Job Center

Achieving Success

achieve success

Achieving success in life requires 3 key ingredients:

1) planning
2) discipline
3) execution

Open our success module for FREE guides on these key success points.

Open Module

Helpful Tools


How can we help with college planning?

1) planning forms
2) manage money tips
3) job search
4) financial guides
5) calculators
6) plus so much more

Jump over to our tool for college planning and financial decision making.

FREE Tools n' Downloads

From Our "College" Journal