Top five ways to make the most of your summer

relaxing_275526Summer is a great time to relax and unwind, but there are also some important steps you should be taking before you start your junior year to make the coming year go smoothly.

Explore college options. Let’s face it: your junior year is going to be very busy. Make it easier by checking out colleges during the summer. Hopefully after a few campus tours and online meetings with schools, you’ll start to have a sense of the type of environment that you’ll really love.

Begin writing college essays. It’s so tempting to spend every day at the beach but be sure to schedule time to work on your application essays, even if it’s just during a few rainy days of the summer. Check out the common essay topics for the schools you’re considering and practice writing. The more you write, the better the ultimate essay will be.

Learn new skills. Whether you work part-time to sock money away for college or work as an intern or volunteer, be sure you’re learning new skills that will help build up your resume.

Get some face-to-face time. It’s easy to chat with friends on Instagram, but getting out and meeting new people will help you down the road. You’ll be improving your communication skills and possibly even building networks that will help you in your future career.

Find a way to alleviate stress. Preparing for college causes a lot of anxiety for many students. Before you start junior year, think about ways you can get some downtime when things get too crazy. It doesn’t matter if it’s going on a hike, talking with a trusted teacher or counselor, or doing something to treat yourself, as long as it helps you get a little escape if college stress gets to be a little too much.

Get free college planning advice at CollegeWeekLive.