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Summer suggestions for college-bound students

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Traditionally, this time of year is viewed as a welcomed break from formal education and as a time to simply relax. But summers for college-bound students must also include some aspects of continuing education during these down months.

READING

This does not mean students must spend all day, everyday reading, unless they want to, of course. It also does not mean that students must read academically serious books all summer. There is a wide variety of publications aimed at young adult readers that cover both scholastically stimulating topics, as well as those designed to cultivate popular trends. Almost any age-appropriate subject will suffice as long as the student is actively engaged in reading during the summer months.

Here are some fantastic resources for college-bound teens to utilize in preparing for a productive summer of reading:

College Board's 101 Great Books for College-Bound Readers

New York Times Best Seller List

Young Adult Library Services Association

Kansas City Public Library Teen Summer Reading Program

Mid-Continent Public Library Teen Summer Reading Program

Being a well-read student, one who is able to communicate in written and verbal format about both historical and current topics, about his/her passions, and about actively planning for the future will aid in not only crafting a notable college admission essay, but will also assist students who are invited to participate in interviews for admission and scholarship.

STANDARDIZED TEST PREP

Here are a few FREE (or cheap) test prep opportunities to consider:

• Utilize Twitter? Follow @ACTStudent for the daily link to the ACT Question of the Day and @SATquestion for the SAT question of the day.**

• Or, simply log on to the ACT website to access the ACT question each day.**

• Visit the SAT question of the day or sign up to have the question emailed to you daily.**

**You are provided with reasons why a correct answer is correct and why incorrect answers are incorrect. It is a learning opportunity, rather than just a guessing game.

• Have a smart phone or tablet? There are multiple ACT and SAT study apps beginning at only $.99.

ACT Prep Online
o $19.95 for a one year “subscription”
o practice tests with real ACT test questions
o practice essays for the new optional ACT Writing Test, with real-time scoring
o comprehensive content review for each of the tests—English, Math, Reading, and Science
o diagnostic test and personalized Study Path
o anywhere, anytime access via the Internet

Remember, academic curriculum and effort toward daily homework and testing is the best test prep. These opportunities, though, allow students to become acquainted with standardized test format and content so there is a degree of familiarity and comfort on testing morning.

COMMUNITY SERVICE

A student should never perform community service for the sake of adding it to the college admission resume. But when a student is involved in service, it should certainly be included, as many schools and organizations make available scholarship dollars to students who have demonstrated commitment to creating an impact in the community.

In addition, selecting the right service project is an opportunity for a student to explore a potential career field, advance a skill, or develop an interest area. For example, a student who excels as an athlete who may be interested in education could volunteer to coach a children's team to teach younger players to play the sport. Another student with plans to pursue further studies in a language could volunteer as a translator at a local agency serving clients who speak languages other than English. A student with artistic or computer skills might be of great assistance to smaller charitable organizations needing website expertise, graphic design experience, or classes for kids.

JOB SHADOWING

Students should spend a day with a friend, neighbor, or family member who works in a career field in which the student is considering a major and/or minor. The day-to-day life in any profession is far less glamorous than what we see on television and in the movies! With enough advanced notice and careful planning, most professionals are happy to share their job experiences with students who are considering the same future.

Especially in cases where a student is applying for admission to a competitive program or to a college within a selective admission university, these job shadowing opportunities, when extended to more than a day, are also a means by which to prove interest in the academic major and the eventual career.

The summer months will be different for every college-bound student, but these are a few suggestions for more effectively preparing for higher education and for enhancing the college search and selection process while students are away from their classrooms.

**To read additional Examiner articles written by Steph Hart, click here or visit Essential Elements: Comprehensive College Planning. You may also find Steph on Facebook and Twitter.

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