10 Ways to Maximize Your Last Summer as a High School Student

Maximize Your Summer

Have Fun AND Use Your Last Summer as a High School Student to Reduce Your Senior Stress!

School’s almost out for the summer, and while it’s important to savor the well-deserved break and engage in social activities, it’s also crucial to use the next few months to get a jump start on essential tasks before being swept up in Senior-year activities. This will help you get a step ahead and make your transition into the fall semester a smooth one while minimizing feelings of overwhelm as you head into college application process.

  1. Have a Discussion with Your Parents About Paying for College—Are you afraid to ask your parents if you will need to apply for financial aid? With tuition rates soaring and the current state of our economy, discussing financial aid and your family’s financial concerns with your parents has never been more important. Knowing how much money you’ll need to contribute will help you make a plan to raise the money by the time your first tuition bill is due. Need some help? Check out this great post to get started.
  2. Learn How to Find and Win Scholarships—Did you know that devoting yourself to finding and applying for scholarships as a part-time job can pay up to $66 an hour? We’ve run the numbers and can prove it’s true. You can read our ebook on how to do this (it’s a fast and easy read!) or get extra help by joining a small group of like-minded students for one hour a week in a Skype chat workshop.
  3. Assemble Your Scholarship Portfolio So You Can Hit the Ground Running in the Fall—This is super important because when you apply for scholarships, the sponsoring organization will request certain documents from you, which must be submitted with your application by their deadline. If you’ve created and assembled your documents ahead of time, you can apply immediately, never miss a deadline, and submit dozens (dare I say hundreds?) of scholarship applications. Being “scholarship ready” by your senior year is critical because you’ll be absorbed by  college applications, leaving little time for procuring much-needed scholarships. Learn what documents should be in your Scholarship Portfolio here and if you need extra help, you can always sign up for a Skype class to get help writing and editing standout documents.
  4. Volunteer with an Organization You Feel Good About or that Works in a Field that You Want to Study or Work In—By now you’ve likely engaged in community service throughout your high school career. This is important because scholarship committees look for students who give back to their communities. After all, that’s what these organizations do when they offer scholarships! If you haven’t volunteered, start this summer and make a commitment for a year. Here’s a great list of volunteering ideas.
  5. Get a Part-Time Job—While part-time jobs are unlikely won’t pay you $66 an hour, they will look great on your resume. Plus, scholarship committees like to support and award scholarships to students who make an effort to earn their own money for college. As a bonus, you can ask your supervisor and coworkers for the critical Letters of Recommendation you’ll need!
  6. Clean up your Social Media Accounts and/or Set Up New Social Media Accounts to be Used Exclusively for Your College and Scholarship SearchA recent study from Kaplan has found that 31% of college admission officers check social media to see if an applicant would make a good fit and 12% of colleges report rejecting an applicant because of what they discovered on social media. These numbers are growing every year. These are sobering numbers and I strongly suggest spending time this summer reviewing and revising your social media accounts or putting in place tight privacy settings. The other option is to open brand new social media accounts that you can use to show yourself in the best possible light to colleges and scholarship committees. 
  7. Get Letters of Recommendation (You’ll Need Several for College and Scholarship Applications)—Recommendation letters from people who know you and your work well—give scholarship committees a glimpse into your strengths, your qualities, your personality, and your accomplishments. These letters can often be the difference between winning a scholarship and having to try again next year. Summer is a great time to request Recommendation Letters because people are more relaxed and have more free time available. Start reaching out to people early in the summer because it can often take a month or two to get the letter you need! Here’s a few tips on how to get a great letter!
  8. Assemble Your Scholarship Team—Successful entrepreneurs never go it alone. They build a team to help them achieve their company’s vision and mission. If you’re in need of scholarships, your vision is to pay for college and graduate debt-free. Your mission is to win scholarships. The bigger your team is, the faster and easier you’ll achieve both. As the old saying goes, “Many hands make light work.” So use the summer to build your team.
  9. Create a Personal Website—Creating a personal or professional website is a great way to tell your story. Showcasing your work and portfolio is an excellent project to take on this summer. Start your own YouTube, channel, blog, or buy a domain name to post your resume and samples of your clips. When applying for scholarships, college, internships or jobs, having a website dedicated to your work will help you stand out. Here are two great posts from one of my favorite blogs, The Daily Muse: Build a Personal Website in a Week and 14 Stunning Ways to Build Your Personal Website This Week.
  10. Take Time Out to Relax and Recharge—The importance of taking time off from work cannot be overstated. I’ve had to learn this lesson over and over again but I finally understand that when I take time for self-care, time to rest and recharge, I get more done in less time. Here are some ideas from another favorite blogging team, Marc and Angel: 9 Ways to Feel Less Stress When Life Gets Crazy Busy.

School is out for the summer in less than 4 weeks (at least here in Vermont). Now is a good time to plan your summer activities to achieve maximum results and reduce the feelings and stress that go along with being a Senior next year. How will you spend your last summer before becoming a Senior? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Search Our Featured Scholarships

Featured Scholarships

Use Keywords to Search Our Featured Scholarships to Find Those You Can Apply for Today!

When we find a scholarship, we will often share them with our readers. Each scholarship has keywords associated with it so you can easily search our blog posts to find just the right opportunity for you.

You can search by:

  • Deadline month (March Deadline)
  • Standing (High School, Freshman, Junior, Sophomore, Senior, Undergraduate, Graduate School)
  • Gender (Women)
  • Veterans
  • LGBTQ or LGBT
  • Minority
  • Major (Accounting, Journalism, Computer Science, etc.)
  • Athletics (sports or a specific sport)
  • Need-based or Merit-based
  • State (where you reside or attend school)

So check out our Featured Scholarships for high-quality scholarship organizations that award scholarships year after year. Search for those where you meet the eligibility requirements. We give you all the information you need:

  • Deadline Date
  • Award Amount
  • Number of Scholarships Awarded
  • Scholarship Name & URL
  • Contact Information for the Funding Organization
  • Eligibility Requirements
  • Documents Needed
  • Application Links

You can also take our Scholarship Search for a test drive. Let us know what you think.

How to Use Social Media to Win Scholarships!

Social MediaWhat Impression Do You Give Scholarship Committees?

Remember those pictures you posted to Facebook, Instagram, and Vine to show your friends how wild that party was? Could all those selfies really hurt your chance of winning a scholarship? You bet! Scholarship committees can see them too. Reviewing an applicant’s posts on social media sites is one of the ways scholarship committees get additional information to base their award decisions on. You’ll want to be sure that your social media sites either reflect the person you want the scholarship committees to see or that you’ve got those sites locked down tight.

Create Social Media Accounts to Win Scholarships

There is another option and one I like best: create a new Facebook account that’s totally focused on your scholarship business. Why Facebook? Because most people and scholarship organizations have a Facebook page. You might call your new page “Scholarships for Sarah” or “Sarah’s Scholarship Quest.” You get the idea. Set the privacy setting to “public” to permit people in your Scholarship Circle to post new scholarships and comment on your posts. This is also an easy way to quickly thank them for their scholarship leads and recommendation letters. It’s also a great way to get new scholarship leads and recommendation letters. Once you locate a scholarship you’re interested in, find the sponsoring organization’s Facebook page and “like” it to stay up to date on their news. Search for colleges you’re interested in (or attend) as well as organizations that relate to your major and “like” those pages as well.

I strongly recommend that students also set up a profile on LinkedIn. There are many benefits to joining LinkedIn as a high school or college student including:

  • Receive email alerts or notifications on your profile page for jobs and internships based on your education and interests.
  • Expand your business network to include your professors, advisers, mentors, employers (past and present), industry leaders, scholarship organizations, and people on your Scholarship Team.
  • Get recommendations.
  • Explore career paths.
  • Research companies to find out what they do, what people are saying about them, and the type of people they hire.
  • Companies who are seeking interns or have jobs to fill can quickly find you.
  • Join professional groups in your field (or major) to expand your knowledge, ask questions, and make new connections.
  • Join your university alumni group to connect with fellow students and see where they’ve found jobs and reach out to alumni whose companies are hiring.

LinkedIn has quite a few videos to help you build a great profile, find a job or internship, learn how to network, and prepare for interviews. You can also check out What Every College Student Should Post on LinkedIn from Mashable.

Another option I recommend is to set up a personal website using any number of tools that make it easy to get up and running immediately. You don’t need a domain name or experience with WordPress or Dreamweaver to share your story, add links to your social media accounts, or add photos and videos of your work. Here are 14 great ways to build your website today!

What to Post & Share to Gain Great Exposure

Post comments, photos, and videos of events and activities that will reflect your best qualities and impress scholarship committees. Here’s a list of 366 ideas from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and 4H. They’re organized by categories so you can pick something you’re passionate about (or at least interested in).

These are some particularly valuable activities that you will want to showcase on your social media sites:

Community Service—Many scholarships require participation in community service or ask you to write about it on their application or in an essay. Serving over a longer period of time is better than a day or two here or there. Scholarship committees favor students who demonstrate a commitment to community service. It shows them that you can stick with long-term goals (like graduating college). It demonstrates that you believe serving your community is important and that you share the same values as the committee. (Remember, they serve the community by providing scholarships to deserving students!)

Projects you did for your community, a nonprofit organization, or school can include:

  • Assembling holiday gifts for homeless children or kids in foster care
  • Reading stories to children in the hospital
  • Teaching people how to use the Internet at a senior center

Leadership Activities—These are activities that you engage in either at school or after school that demonstrate your leadership ability. Obvious examples are captain of a sports team, student council member, or president/secretary/treasurer of a club. If you didn’t hold any of these positions, don’t panic. You’ll just need to consider your involvement in various organizations and activities, and how you participated. Ask yourself what your role was and then decide if you “took the lead” on something. Spend some time thinking about (and developing) this area because colleges and scholarship committees look for leaders when granting admission and awarding money.

  • Starting a small business
  • Running meetings or committees for school clubs or outside organizations
  • Participating in scouting or 4H
  • Attending leadership camp (your local colleges and universities likely offer teen leadership programs for schools and individuals)

Competitions and Awards—Post about competitions you enter and awards you receive. This allows people to see you shine and get to know you better. Even if you don’t win the award, you show everyone that you’re making a serious effort and you demonstrate resilience, persistence, and graciousness (just don’t go off on a rant about how you were robbed).

  • Academic competitions in math, science, spelling, geography, writing
  • Creative activities that you engage in such as a video of you performing music, singing, or acting. Photos of your art, copies of your poems or writing you submitted to contests, publications, or that you blogged.

Scholarships—Post about the scholarships you’re applying for and include links to the organization’s page. You never know who on your team may have a connection there and can put in a good word for you. Definitely post about the scholarships you win. This isn’t bragging. It’s an opportunity for your team members to celebrate the win with you! And if it’s one that a team member suggested to you, it let’s them know they’re not wasting their time sending you leads because you follow through. It’s also a chance for you to publically thank them.

Need more help? We coach students to help them set up their scholarship business, create a Scholarship Portfolio, and implement a social media strategy to win scholarships.