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The Summertime 7: Super Strategies for Seniors

Going off to college this fall? Congratulations! You deserve some R&R this summer, but you should also use the next few months to get ready for freshman year.

Hey seniors! The summer before college is quickly approaching and your fantasies of kicking back in a cozy recliner and eating bonbons (or traveling around Europe and eating croissants) are starting to seem just a little more real. After the stress of AP exams, the continual fight to stave off senioritis, the hectic college admission process, and of course—the icing on the cake—your impending finals, you deserve some R and R among all those carbs. But while you feed your body during your summer off, don’t forget that your future is coming at you like a dark horse. You’ll be glad you kept your head in the game when the perfect storm of having to transition to life on campus comes alongside saying goodbye to your parents’ home. Alright? Alright. So, here is the scoop on the moves that can matter.

1. Polish up your résumé and create a profile on LinkedIn

You may think college isn’t a place where you will need a résumé, but think again. If you intend to apply for things like school scholarships, campus club positions, research opportunities for credit, or a local or on-campus job, you’ll need one. As an added step, take this time to create a LinkedIn account—you’ll be connecting with new peers, professors, and departmental administrators every day, so take this opportunity to build your professional network early on. It’ll be a great resource when you transition from college to career!

Related: The Balancing Act of Social Media

2. Buy your textbooks now, not later

As soon as your textbook list is available, start buying.  Did you know it’s way cheaper (sometimes 75% off) to obtain a textbook used? Why wait and be stuck with only the more expensive college bookstore option? Rent your textbook, buy the less expensive e-Book, search for a cheaper copy on Amazon, or buy directly from a fellow student for a reduced price (see This little bit of research could save you at least a couple hundred dollars if you put in the time. That’s about 70 café lattes (and you’ll need those come midterms), so save up!

3. Research your campus and new geographic region

You researched your college well enough to know it was the place for you, but what new discoveries can you make? Become acquainted with on-campus activities, clubs you might be interested in joining, your university’s sports teams, and popular local hangouts. Also find out the best means of transportation to what’s outside the campus. Should you bring a bike, skateboard, car, or just the two feet you were born with? Explore—without mom and dad’s curfews, you’ll have so much to see and do, and knowing your options will be key to not missing out on cool new adventures.

Related: 5 Things to Research Again Before Choosing a College

4. Friend your roommate

Don’t wait to meet your roommate until move-in day. There are definite advantages to being friends with the person you will live with for the next year. Not only is there a social benefit (always having a buddy to partner up with), but there is also a planning advantage. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram are all popular ways to find them, and there are even websites that can help match your preferences (such as While you’re planning what to bring, take the opportunity to set “ground rules” (e.g., acceptable noise level, time for lights out, visitors, etc.) so that your friendship starts on solid footing.

5. Make a list

Don’t find out on day one at college that you left all your bed sheets and quilt in the dryer 2,000 miles away. Make a list for yourself and keep track of the items you use every day. Nab nifty space organizers at the local Bed Bath & Beyond or Container Store to maximize your dorm room area while staying orderly. Be sure to bring clothes appropriate for the climate you’ll be living in—I know one Los Angeles student who was astounded that attending her college choice in Vermont meant she had to buy a strange and exotic thing called a winter coat. Don’t forget to bring both professional business and business casual attire—there’s a good chance you’ll attend a college event that requires these. Make sure you have the appropriate electronics to succeed in college—laptops are a must and tablets are great for taking notes on those small desks.

Related: Moving for College: Your Ultimate Weekly Timeline and Checklist

6. Plan with your parents

Although you’ve probably had numerous talks with your parents already and May 1came as a huge relief (past the point of no return), it’s not time to stop now. Make sure you and your parents on are the same page about how frequently you will come home and which items are on your budget and which are on theirs (e.g., food, gas, pocket spending money, etc.). And speaking of finances, don’t forget to pay your tuition before the penalty deadline. It’s good to plan quality time with your parents now—despite your excitement about college, it’s likely you’ll miss them a lot. And as a mom, let me tell you something: they’re going to miss you too.

7. Manage your health

No doubt your college requires documentation of your immunizations and adequate health insurance, or you’ll have to receive immunizations before you leave and purchase the university health insurance plan for students. While you’re getting the paperwork in order, take the opportunity to stop by your doctor for a quick check-up. It’s best to do this now to avoid visiting a doctor you won’t know.  Make sure you’re at the peak of health before you spread your wings and fly. Stock up on any needed prescriptions, and think ahead about eating and exercise game plans to avoid the dreaded “freshman 15.”

RelatedA Smart Checklist to Prep for Your First Year of College

By taking heed of these seven summer suggestions for seniors, you’ll save yourself future grief and prepare for freshman year fun. Enjoy your last few months of “childhood.” 

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation! For more, check out all of our articles and advice on summer!

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About Pamela Donnelly

Pamela Donnelly

Pamela Donnelly is a #1 bestselling author (SWAT Team Tactics for Getting Your Teen Into College), speaker, and educational expert whose work can be viewed at As Time magazine's go-to college admission expert, she has appeared on regional and national television, and Larry King has endorsed her recently published book, 4 Keys to College Admissions Success.

Donnelly is a frequent speaker at live events throughout the greater Los Angeles region and a passionate advocate for education reform. She graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University with degrees in literature/writing and secondary education, and she has been called "the Suze Orman of education." A professional educator for more than 20 years and a former on-camera talent under contract to ABC-TV, she is the academic expert trusted by some of the most discerning and notable parents in Los Angeles.

A mother of three, Donnelly leads a team of Ivy League educators, helping parents go the extra mile to ensure their teens' transition to colleges of their dreams.

Her brick-and-mortar business, Valley Prep Tutoring Services, Inc., is the hub from which all of Donnelly's brand-related products and services flow. You can visit and for more information.


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