Summer Planning Guide for College-Bound Students

A guide to your final summer before heading to college.

May 1st – Decision Day

It all begins on May 1st when most students have to make their final decision, notify the college of their acceptance, and submit their deposit. 


May-June - Keep up your grades and graduate strong!

Although not common, it is possible to lose your offer of admission from a college. This could happen if your grades drop dramatically, or if you get into other forms of serious trouble. 


June-July – Enjoy your summer.

What’s the best way to spend your summer before heading to college? Here are a couple suggestions:

Make a financial plan.

How will you be paying for college? Make sure you discuss with your parents how much you are expected to contribute whether it be through savings, work, or taking out student loans.

Get a job. 

It's a pretty sure bet that you'll probably want some extra spending cash in college. Get as many work hours as you can in the summer before you have to balance your schedule with college classes. Some great summer jobs for students include baby-sitting, life-guarding, working at a summer camp or golf course, or working in food service.

Apply for scholarships.

Ideally you should have started searching for and applying for scholarships during your school year, but the summer may be when you can make up for lost time if you found yourself too busy to put that much time into the process. Some places that may offer local scholarships include your parent's workplace, local banks or credit unions, local businesses or non-profits. 

Apply to hundreds of scholarships by filling out one form at Scholarship Owl.

Do some research into your ideal college major.

Your experiences outside of school can give you insight into what activities you enjoy most and what majors you may want to study in college. Begin thinking about different careers or college majors you might enjoy. Try to get experience in those areas if possible.

Get in touch with your roommate.

Most students find out who their roommate will be over the summer. Making contact with them ahead of time could set some of your fears at ease about living with a new person.

Spend time with friends and family.

Make sure you set aside some time to spend with friends and family before heading to college in the Fall. College is a big change and you may not have as much time to spend with loved ones as you did before.

Cross items off your bucket-list.

Don't forget to work some fun and adventure into your summer. Many high school students end their year being burnt out with school. Take some time during the summer to re-charge by creating a summer bucket-list of places to visit, books to read, movies to watch, or activities to try.


August – Final preparation for college.

Make sure you know how you’re paying.

Deposits for fall tuition are likely due in August or September. Make sure all your financial aid is in order and you have researched the best options for student loans if you need them.

The best advice for students is to rely on “free money” for as much of their education as possible. This includes scholarships, grants and financial aid. After that point students may need to look into loans to finance their education.

To learn more about what is available, visit our student loan guide.

If you do need to research private student loans, the best way to do so is by using a site like Credible, where you can compare loans from multiple offers using a simple form.

Get packing!

Your college will ideally provide you with a packing list for school. Most often this includes items such as bedding, shower caddy, personal hygiene items, clothes and school supplies. Try not to over-pack. You can always fill in gaps later.


Take a few moments to enjoy the experience.

College is a unique time in your life where you have the chance to dive deep into a subject of interest, meet new and interesting people, and get exposed to novel ideas. Enjoy the experience and have fun!

College Factual has partnered with Credible, a site that allows students to compare personalized offers from multiple lenders in minutes. Using this service students and parents can find the best rates on private student loans, and graduates can refinance their loans to potentially save thousands. Learn more about our partnership