summer hat with notebook

5 College Prep Tasks to Do the Summer Before Senior Year

Summer vacation means you get to finally take a relaxing break from school — but if you’re a high school senior, summer can also be an opportunity to get a jumpstart on college applications.

If you can devote even just a few hours each week to college apps, you’ll save yourself a TON of stress later when it comes time to press that “submit” button.

Here are 5 college prep tasks you can work on over the summer:


Applications, essays, and resumes, oh my! Let BibMe.org give you hand. There’s a paper checker to help you avoid plagiarism, and grammar guides that provide examples of interjections, lay out the difference in usage of adjectives and adverbs, and even help with research paper topics and example papers!


#1: Start drafting your application essays

As many colleges allow you to apply via the Common App, you can count on having to complete their essay. The Common App gives students several different prompts to choose from, and they’re all pretty broad. Come up with a draft of your 650-word essay over the summer. That way, you can ask a tutor or English teacher to read it over for you once school starts back up. If you plan to apply to schools that don’t use the Common App, check and see if their essay questions are online.

#2: Decide on a final college list

By the summer before senior year, you may have already toured some colleges and may even have a dream school in mind. This is a good time to finalize the list of schools you’re applying to, considering factors like academics, social life, location and cost. The exact number of schools students apply to varies quite a bit, but if you have your eye on highly selective universities, somewhere around 12-15 sounds about right. Make sure to have at least one “safety” — a school where you feel confident you’ll be admitted with your grades and SAT/ACT scores.

#3: Build your resume with a job, classes, etc.

The summer before senior year is your last chance to add something big to your resume. Get a job lifeguarding at a local camp, enroll in classes at a college or intern at a company that does something you’ve always been interested in. Volunteer work is another great way to boost your resume and give back during your extended vacation. Of course, summer is also the time for fun: Don’t forget to relax with pool days, Netflix binges, or a family trip.

#4: Think about financial aid options

College is notoriously expensive, and this is a good time to look into different financial aid and scholarship opportunities. The FAFSA — the federal form used to determine how much you qualify for in loans/aid — should be submitted as close to Oct. 1 as possible, as you can increase your award by filing early.* Many students also seek out merit scholarships, which often have rigorous applications that require you to submit additional essays or letters of recommendation. While most of these won’t be due until the fall or later, summer is a good time to do some research and figure out which opportunities are a good fit.

*Always check with the official FAFSA website for any changes or updates.

#5: Study for your final SAT/ACT

Most students take the SAT or ACT in the spring of their junior year, but if you’re not yet satisfied with your score, you’ll have one final opportunity in the fall before applications are due. Order a prep book, join a class, or schedule sessions with a tutor to make sure you’re prepared for test day.


You may not need to create MLA citations or an APA reference page for the ACT or SAT, but BibMe’s citation guides can give great help for your college-level paper. Why not check out what BibMe.com can do for you before your first semester starts?

Published by

Ella Chochrek

Ella is a student at Washington University in St. Louis studying political science and psychology. Originally from Westchester, New York, Ella loves to write and edit. She is editor-in-chief of Wash. U.’s student newspaper, Student Life, and tutors students on Chegg.com, primarily helping with paper editing.