6 Financially Forward-Thinking Actions for High School Graduates on Summer Break

by Jessica Sommerfield · 0 comments

high school graduation
The summer between high school and the freshman year of college is a summer of freedom before plunging back into another four or more years of intense study. That’s why it’s understandable that many teens just want to take some time to enjoy the good life.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some fun and relaxation. In fact, relaxing is vital to our physical and mental health. But the summer between high school and college is also a few months that can set the pace for a student’s finances and career outlook for years down the road.

While teens should seek to balance work and play in the summer months, it’s wise to use this time to think forward and take steps that improve their college applications, debt load, and career opportunities after they graduate.

I’m speaking directly to you, students, here are some ways to do that:

high school graduates1. Apply for Scholarships (In Plural Form)

Even if it’s too late to apply for scholarships for your fall semester (that’s why it’s recommended that students start looking and applying the summer before their senior year), any scholarships you can win for the following year will decrease the need for student loans and debt that could plague you 10 or more years after graduating from college.

Scholarship scouting is an easy activity to do with a little spare time, especially with all the internet databases specifically set up for this type of search. You’ll find millions of dollars-worth of scholarship opportunities (plus internships, financial aid, and many other resources related to college finances) at Peterson’s, The College Board, Fastweb, Scholarships.com, Unigo, Chegg, Cappex, and many other sites.

2. Try to Improve Your ACT/SAT Scores

Taking another standardized test is probably the last thing you want to do on your summer break. I know! But it’s also one of the best opportunities to focus on improving your scores without the pressure of daily homework and studying for finals. With test dates for both ACT and SAT throughout the summer, it’s easy to schedule and take another one.

First, look online for some free resources and tips for improving on these tests. If you (or your parents) can afford it without going into debt, consider a targeted admissions test prep tutoring program.

With better ACT/SAT scores, your college application will look more impressive (better scores may even get you into one of the better colleges on your list). You will qualify for more academic-based scholarships too.

3. Get a Job If Possible, One That’s Related to Your Future Career Goals

Making money is one of the absolute best things you can do for yourself, financially, during your summer break. To maximize your time, try to find a job that’s related to something you plan to study in college.

Not only will this beef up your future resume, but you’ll get real-life experience in your chosen field, which can help you decide if it’s what you want to do with your life before choosing classes and declaring a major. Considering how expensive classes and college textbooks are these days, every wasted class represents a lot of wasted money.

4. Start Saving Up for Your College Living Expenses

While you are living at home and sharing household expenses with your parents, it’s easier to save a significant amount of money very quickly. It’s tempting to spend your hard-earned cash on things you want now, but think ahead to how much money you’ll need to support yourself in college with limited employment and more living expenses (even if your parents are helping).

5. Look for a Last-Minute Internship

Statistics show that students who take internships have higher, faster rates of employment out of college and even higher starting salaries. Paid internships are the best, of course, but they’re harder to get fresh out of high school.

Like scholarships, internships require planning ahead (the best time to find internships in general is in August, and the best time to find summer ones is in February). Look for one even if you don’t have one lined up by then though. Sometimes people back out, or companies fail to anticipate their need for interns. Check into paid apprenticeships that will work with your school schedule as well.

Start with scholarships sites, many of which also list internships. Since they’re jobs, you’ll find the most internships on sites such as MediaBistro or Indeed. If you’re looking specifically for nonprofit internships, Idealist caters to these.

6. Stay Involved in Your Favorite Sports, Groups, Clubs, and Hobbies

Here’s where the fun comes in. Tests, jobs, and internships aren’t the only things that will boost your college resume and career outlook. Colleges look for students that are well-balanced, active, and committed, so keeping up on your hobbies is important. Some of the hobbies and clubs you’re active in will also look good on your future resume, especially if they demonstrate overall leadership or specialized skills.

Relax a little and enjoy your break, high school graduates! You’ve earned it. Also take some time to think about doing one or more of these activities during summer break to keep yourself financially healthy through college and boost your career beyond though. Your future self will thank you tremendously.

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