As the parent of a rising senior, you have a lot on your plate. With your student focused on balancing college applications, extracurriculars, test prep, and anticipating 12th-grade academics, you might find yourself overwhelmed as well. Here are some tips for supporting your teen through this transition, including setting aside important time to destress and have some fun.
To start off, it’s important to take a step back and look at everything your student has going on over the summer before senior year. Rising seniors are often pulled in different directions during the summer as they set themselves up for success in the upcoming fall college application season. Talk with your student about how they’re feeling about their schedule. Have a conversation with them to come to a shared understanding about what’s important to them. Let them know you’re on their side and help them prioritize.
If your teen struggles with time management, you can support them in a variety of ways. Make sure they have a calendar app on their phone to stay on top of daily appointments such as any summer courses, extracurricular meetings, and SAT tutoring sessions. If your student loves writing things down, you could also purchase a planner and new stationery for them. Keep a whiteboard in the kitchen or share online calendars so that you are also aware of what’s going on in their week.
College List Building and Campus Visits
Summer is a crucial time for college applicants to wrap up their initial college visits and narrow down their school lists. Sit down and talk to your teen about their options, top choices, and any remaining schools they think are worth a visit.
Help them find out which colleges check demonstrated interest and sign them up for information sessions at those schools over the summer if it fits in their schedule. If you sit down and plan out these visits, you can even turn it into a fun family trip!
Summer is a time when students might also start thinking about where they want to apply Early Decision and Early Action. Help them talk through the pros and cons of different options. Make sure they aren’t applying Early Decision to a school without feeling fully confident that they would thrive in its academic and social environment.
If your student is planning to take the SAT or ACT in August or October, the summer before senior year is a good time to schedule in SAT practice. Check in with them to make sure they have all the resources needed. Sign them up for tutoring or send them links to online tutorials so that they have help.
Make sure they know what subjects need improvement–especially if they have already taken the SAT/ACT once–and encourage them to practice questions that cover those topics. Remind them to check out the high end of the median scores at their top-choice schools so they know what they should be aiming for.
At the same time, remind them that many schools have also now gone test-optional, and they shouldn’t put too much pressure on themselves, especially if they’re an anxious test-taker. On the day of the test, help your student set alarms to wake up and get to the test center on time.
Preparation For the Fall
Senior fall is one of the most overwhelming times for any high school student. As their parent, part of your role is giving them support over the summer so that they can stay on top of everything they have to do. Check if they need textbooks or supplies for the start of school. Talk to them about leadership positions they plan to pursue or continue. Encourage them to meet regularly with their high school college counselor.
Many students also start writing their college essays, particularly their Common Application personal statement, over the summer. Let them know you’re there if they want to discuss their essay topic ideas or if they need anyone to read over their essay and check for typos, grammatical errors, etc.
Helping Summer Activities Go Well
Students often use the summer to pursue their interests in a more concentrated manner, as they have more time when school is out. If your student is enrolled in a summer program, make sure they’re attending sessions and keeping up with the work. If they have started their own project, ensure they have everything they need to stay on track of goals. Let them know you’re there if they need help finding resources or contacts.
If for any reason your student’s summer plans don’t work out, help them find new and meaningful ways to spend the remaining time. Guide them toward relevant online courses or in-person opportunities in their field of interest. Remind them that summer shouldn’t be entirely spent on test prep. They should do something that can help boost their extracurriculars—and enjoy it!
Finally, it can be easy for overwhelmed students to take on too much during the summer before senior year. Remind your student to take breaks, go on walks, spend time with friends and family, and get plenty of rest. Family vacations are still very welcome in the summer before senior year! With your support, your teen can find the right balance to make the summer productive and enjoyable. Check in with them regularly to see how you can help them take full advantage of this time.