Summer Before College
July is the month for spending time at the beach, having a BBQ with friends, lounging in a hammock on a lazy afternoon – and preparing for the fall semester at college. The last part of that sentence may have made you think, “what?????” Although it isn’t easy to think about college life during the carefree summer months, spending time in July doing some college prep will have a big pay-off when college starts in September.
Here are 5 ways to prepare for college during the summer:
Prepare so you can hit the ground running in the fall:
- Research Professors: Check out Rate My Professors and Uloop to read reviews from other students at your college. This will help you pick courses and instructors that match your learning style
- Register for fall classes: When scheduling your classes, be sure to check the campus map to make sure you have enough time to walk from one class to the next.
- Download a campus map and have it on your phone for easy reference: Become familiar with where the drop-in tutoring program is located and take advantage of free tutoring.
- Purchase textbooks: some professors post their textbook requirements before class starts. Here are some tips for saving money.
Practice Your Time Management Skills:
- Every Sunday in July, take a few minutes to plan out your week. Make plans to spend time with friends, to exercise, to work at a summer job, to read, to clean your room, and to engage in a hobby or favorite activity. Then write down your activities and tasks in a paper planner or paper calendar, on your laptop’s calendar, or on a whiteboard in your room. By doing so, you will become more aware of how your time is spent, how long it takes to get where you are going, and the actual length of time an activity lasts. This is good practice for when you are planning your college schedule. By practicing during the summer, you will strengthen your time management skills for the fall.
Practice Your Study Skills:
- One of the most essential study skills is the ability to effectively take notes. July is a great time to get familiar with note-taking strategies and find the one that best fits your learning style.
Effective strategies include paying attention to boldface words and headings reworking main ideas into concepts that are easily understood, being attentive to captions, using different modes of note-taking such as highlighters, sticky notes, index cards, graphs, charts, and diagrams. The goal is to make sure that the notes you take either answer or reference the objective and questions that accompany each lesson. Don’t just write down every word the instructor says. Listen to what is being said and try to relate it to your life. Putting it in your own words will also help reinforce the lesson. Here’s a way to practice: listen to a TED talk that interests you and be sure to take notes as if it is a lecture for a college class. Then highlight the main topics or make note cards with index cards. Study your notes and have a friend or life coach quiz you and see how well you remembered the information. This is a great way to practice note taking during the summer!
- Create or find a comfortable space to study free from distractions. Some people prefer the library, others a coffee shop, or a bedroom. Find out what works for you!
Practice Life Skills:
- The summer months are a great time to learn and practice the life skills that are needed for college. Learn to do your own laundry and practice doing it once a week. Wash your sheets and make your bed with clean sheets. Make yourself an appointment at the dentist. Go grocery shopping and then make a meal. Practicing these skills will make life at college so much easier!
- Learn to treat yourself well! Practice getting to bed at a time that allows you to wake up refreshed. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy and are likely to continue to do once classes start. Make healthy decisions regarding what you choose to eat. Develop a plan for what you will do when you feel overwhelmed, such as meeting with a therapist or life coach or taking a yoga class.
So while you are enjoying the lovely summer season, spend some time preparing for college in the fall. Advance LA’s Life Skills Coaches assist their clients with getting ready for college by helping them practice the above 5 skills. A Life Skills Coach provides support and encouragement to make summertime college prep as fun as a day at the beach!
Jeri Rochman, JD, MS
Jeri Rochman, JD, MS, is the Advance LA Director of Community Outreach, a Life Skills Coach, National Board Certified Counselor and Certified Parent Educator. Interested in learning more about Advance LA’s services?