5 Things Your Teen Can Do This Summer to Prepare for College/University

By Sylvan Learning


1. Take a virtual tour: While your teen can’t physically tour many campuses right now – he or she can virtually tour them. Most college/university websites have virtual tours and quite a few are bulking up that tour with opportunities to speak with admissions representatives, talk to students, etc.

2. Create or finalize your college/university list: Typically when deciding what schools to apply to, teens create a list that includes some dream, some match and some safety schools. Have your teen start this list, but perhaps think about adding more local schools to the list.



3. Prepare for the SAT/ACT. Due to COVID-19 some colleges/universities have decided to make the SAT/ACT test optional/test flexible for students applying to enter colleges in fall of 2021. Some of the schools on your teen’s school list are still requesting SAT/ACT scores – so make sure to check out each school’s requirements.

Here are some reasons why taking the test is still a good idea:

  • Test Optional/Test Flexible does not mean students can’t send in good SAT/ACT scores. Many schools will still look at these scores if they are submitted.
  • Colleges/universities are also trying to get the full picture of your teen as a student – and if that score helps set him or her apart – send those scores.
  • For a student whose GPA is maybe lower than typically accepted for a school of choice, improving SAT/ACT scores and sending in a high SAT/ACT score can help balance that out.
  • SAT/ACT scores are used for more than just admissions—they are often used to determine financial aid/scholarships.

4. Prepare for college/university level work. Preparing for college/university is more than just taking the SAT/ACT. It is also about ensuring your teen can handle the rigors of higher-level coursework. This includes having strong reading, writing and math skills, as well as test-taking skills and study skills.

While the end of this school year didn’t quite go as expected, it is possible that all of the material your teen was supposed to cover (but maybe didn’t get to cover because of COVID-19 school disruptions) will show up again in college/university. So, take the summer to brush up on these concept and skills.

  • Take an advanced reading course to ensure your teen can read efficiently and effectively.
  • Have your teen brush up on essay writing skills. Your teen will have many essays in the future, so now is a great time for him or her to get a handle on how to write them!
  • If your teen is a rising senior, now is the time to work on college/university application essays. Senior year will be busy, so get it out of the way this summer.
  • Work on developing math skills – either skills that you didn’t end up covering at the end of this year or just improving in that subject area in general if it’s a struggle for you. Many colleges will require a math test to determine what math course to take – the better you do, the less chance you will have to take an additional remedial math course.
  • Now is a good time to brush up on study habits. Does your teen know how to take good notes in lectures? How about test-taking strategies? Many classes are set up so that a final grade is determined solely by a few tests and papers.

5. Participate in extracurricular activities this summer. If your teen is able to volunteer or work part-time this summer, find something that interests him or her that will be a good addition to share on applications.

If your teen is unable to work/volunteer outside of the home due to COVID-19, have him or her think about taking an online class in a subject area of interest. Or think outside the box about how he or she can be helpful to others during this crisis. Here are some starter ideas:

  • Create a zoom class in something he or she is good at
  • Collect food for local food pantries
  • Start an online reading club for younger kids
  • Sew masks for your community
  • Contact a local assisted living facility/nursing home and ask about becoming a pen pal with a resident
  • Reach out to small businesses/farms in the area and offer to do social media posts for them