High School Students, Here's Your Summer To-Do List

By Samuel G. Smith on Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ahh — summer. No studying, no homework and plenty of time for kicking back and relaxing. While you may not want to think about school at all for a few months, now's a great time to get ready for the new year.

Whether you're just gearing up to begin your journey through high school or anxiously awaiting its end, consider these tips to make sure you're using this summer's free time wisely.

Freshmen, this is the year your high school grades start counting toward your ability to get into college later, so try hard to make sure your GPA is up to snuff. If you’ve been slacking, now’s the perfect time to refocus and make a commitment to your education and your future.

To-do this summer: Talk to your guidance counselor and parents to make sure you're on track to start the Smart Core class schedule, which will not only give you a solid academic foundation for high school and beyond but will also ensure you’re in the running for state financial aid. Find out if your school offers any Advanced Placement (AP) courses and which ones would be right for you — these can give you college credit while still in high school.

Sophomores, this year you’ll be adding to important foundations you built as a freshman in English, math, science and more. Because college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT will test your ability in these areas, doing well now -- and taking care of any snags in your academic progress -- will make sure you’ll have the best shot at qualifying for scholarships and grants and getting into the college you want later on.

To-do this summer: Start thinking about career paths and areas of study you might be interested in pursuing. Check out some cool majors here or industries that are growing rapidly.

Juniors, this year will not only be more challenging academically, but you’ll be taking on more responsibility in other areas, too. You should be seriously thinking about higher education at this point, so start looking around at where you’d like to go and how to get there. Browse our college listings to find the perfect fit for you.

To-do this summer: Register for the ACT or SAT and start a study routine to do your best. Not sure which test to take? Check out our guide here.

Seniors, congrats! You’ve made it this far, so this is no time for senioritis. Learning to maintain a balance between celebration and schoolwork this year will be good practice for when you’re pursuing what’s next.

To-do this summer: Register to retake the ACT or SAT if you were unhappy with your scores, and make a game plan for college registration and financial aid (read all about that here).

Wherever you’ll be heading on your path this fall, keep Arkansas Next handy for tips and resources that will help you along the way. We hope you enjoy your summer!