Education doesn’t end when your last final exam is over and your locker is cleaned out for summer. For high school students, taking a break from your regular course load means shifting your attention to the important work of planning for college. This doesn’t have to be daunting. It can even be fun as you explore and learn what’s ahead!
Getting and staying organized is key. If you don’t already have one, you should create a college planning file and an account on College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC). These will help you keep track of all your important documents and notes while in high school. To make applications easier, keep track of:
Choosing a major is a big step because this will help determine the school you choose. Summer is a good time to spend time exploring how your interests fit into different careers and what you need to study to pursue a job in those fields. This can feel overwhelming, but the CFNC.org website makes it really easy! You can explore programs and majors by interest or by job title. You can see related careers and programs. Many have insider information — giving an in-depth look at what it means to have a career in a certain field and what courses a student will need — both in high school and college.
Summer is also a good time to explore colleges and universities. Online college search tools offer an easy way to explore details for a wide variety of schools simply. You’ll find information on majors offered, cost of the schools, entrance requirements and even virtual tours. While you are on break, start using this time to narrow down schools that you find interesting.
Now — before you even apply to college — is the best time to start looking at how you are going to cover the costs. There are many scholarships available that are awarded to students based on qualifications other than financial need. You will need to find out what the requirements and application deadlines are for these merit-based scholarships. Also, when you return to school, your high school counselor can also help you with information about local scholarships. Most are for several hundred or a few thousand dollars, and every little bit can add up!
Summer is also the perfect time to take on a part-time job or volunteer position. Both can help you learn more about fields you may be interested in studying down the line. Beyond this, both offer good experiences to incorporate into your college applications.
The earlier you make a plan, the less stressful applying to college will be when your senior year rolls around. The CFNC.org website has tools that can help you navigate the road from high school to college. No matter where you are on that path, stick with your plan and have a great summer!