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Five easy ways to take advantage of your summer before college applications

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

Yes, you CAN make your summer work for you -- even if the summer has already started. Whether you're rising 9th or rising 12th, here are five easy, purposeful things you can do this summer that DON'T involve an application, interview, or transatlantic flight!


Colleges love students who give their time for others' benefit. Consider starting a regular schedule with an organization like the Pasadena Humane Society, Foothill Unity Center, or SGV Habitat for Humanity.

Academic preview

Get a few weeks ahead of the content in each of your courses for the fall. Use resources like Khan Academy, vocabulary flashcards, and Coursera to make sure you're ahead of the curve from day one.

Practice time management

It seems like summer would be the time to take a break from structure, but it's actually a great time to practice creating and sticking to a structured schedule because the stakes are usually pretty low during the summer.

Take a leadership role

During the summer, many of your peers are taking it easy, and that's why it's such a good time to assert a larger contribution, either within an organization or on your own as an independent project. When others are resting, you can stand out by taking initiative.

Research colleges

Identify best-fit colleges based on your personality, preferences, goals, needs, and finances. Learn about these schools from their websites, outside guides like The Fiske Guide, student testimonials from websites like Unigo, and other college research resources. Try to talk to a real student if you can. But -- be aware that summer is NOT the best time for a college visit because you really want to see the campus when class is in session.

The college search involves a lot of legwork! Download my completely free College Research Guide to get my ultimate list of college search resources so you know exactly where to start.

Robert Powers (M.A. Johns Hopkins) is the college consultant at College Torch. He is an expert in colleges and the college admissions process. Parents, join his private Facebook group for Parents of College-Bound Students.

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