Every Parent's Summer To-Do List Before Your Kid's Senior Year

Being a parent can be stressful. Being a parent of a soon-to-be Senior can be even more so! We asked a parent who's successfully gotten three kids through their senior year what advise she would give parents. Here's her recommended To-Do List for the summer to help you get your child's senior year off to a great start.

To-Do #1

Check ACT Scores with Entrance and Scholarship Requirements

If your senior didn't take the ACT in the spring, step one is making sure they do first thing this summer! Make sure they take the test at the earliest opportunity. Once they have a score, it's time to check how it compares to college requirements. Most schools give out scholarships depending on test scores, so you want to know what each school looks at and what scores get tuition breaks. Some colleges have this information on their websites, but giving a call to the admissions office is also a good way to find out how much you and your senior can save depending on their ACT.

If your senior is just a test point or two away from a lower tuition rate, it's well worth it to encourage them to study and take the test again over the summer. The ACT may be a pain for your senior and taking it multiple times may seem daunting, but if a slightly better result could push them into a higher scholarship bracket, it could save you both a lot of money in the long run.

Best time to do this: April - July

BONUS: Ways to Improve ACT Scores

First things first.... You can check ACT scores here.

Ways to Improve:

1: Give your senior practice tests. You can often find resources at your local library. Ask your librarian where you can find ACT materials and use these resources for your senior to practice. Your senior can use a timer during these practices to help learn how they should be pacing themselves during the real deal.

2. Find a tutor. Ask your child's school counselor for names of available tutors that specialize in ACT prep. Some one-on-one coaching can greatly improve their score.

3. Check old tests to see where scores are lacking. Find patterns for where your child might be making the most mistakes. These will give you a better idea of what areas to focus on.

4. Know that it's not just about how much they know. Knowing the answers is just part of the challenge. If your child is struggling to improve scores, they may be rushing, have testing anxiety, have trouble focusing, or just not getting through it all on time. Help them with these test taking problems as well in addition to studying the answers.

to-Do #2

Schedule College Visits

The summer before senior year is one of the best times to take a personal look at each college. Seeing a campus in person and feeling the atmosphere first hand can make or break the decision to attend, so this step is incredibly important. Help your senior make a list of the schools they're most interested in, and create a plan to visit each one. Check the school's website or call the admissions office to see what their visitors schedule looks like. Most colleges offer both individual visits as well as events and weekends. Either way, make sure you get a full campus tour and time to sit down one-on-one with an admissions counselor. This is your time to ask anything and everything! So make sure you're prepared by writing out things you'd like to find out and bringing the list of questions with you.

Best time to do this: July - August

BONUS: 13 Questions to Ask on a College Visit

The big three questions your senior must ask are: Can I study here? Can I live here? And Can I succeed here? To help answer those big questions... be sure to ask these little questions during your campus visit:

#1: What is the average class size?

#2: How much time do students typically spend on homework?

#3: What is the Faculty to Student ratio?

#4: What is the average financial aid package?

#5: What work-study or on-campus job opportunities are there?

#6: What is the graduation rate?

#7: What percentage of Freshmen return for their Sophomore year?

#8: What tutoring or academic help services are there? 

#9: Where is the writing center and what are it's hours?

#10: What type of career services are available?

#11: What percentage of students live on campus?

#12: Do most students go home on the weekends?

#13: What clubs and activities are on campus?

to-Do #3

Plan a Family Trip or Activity

This may be the last summer that the whole family gets to spend together, so make sure you get to do something fun with everyone. We know you're already overwhelmed with everything else going on, so planning a vacation may seem like just one more stress piled on your already full plate. But it doesn't have to be! One easy way to create a family vacation is to make it part of a college visit. If you're traveling a while to go see a school anyway, just plan for a a few extra activities while you're in the area. Or keep it simple by just planning a day with family activities without going far. This could be at the nearest waterpark, a trip to the beach, or “play tourist” by going to unique places in your area that you don't normally visit. You don't have to travel far or spend a lot of money as long you get time together.

Best time to do this: June - August

BONUS: Dubuque Places for Fun Family Day Trips

You don't have to go far for some family fun. Here are some of the most popular places for a little stay-cation.

1. Mississippi River Museum

2. Creative Adventure Lab

3. Hike in Mines of Spain or Swiss Valley

4. Finley's Landing

5. 4th Street Elevator

6. Grand Harbor Indoor Waterpark

7. Sky Tours Zipline

To-Do #4

Get Senior Portraits in Early

It may seem silly taking senior portraits immediately after your child's Junior year. They might not be feeling like a senior quite yet, but the truth is, early summer is the absolute best time to get in. June especially is perfect for warm weather without being too hot, all of the foliage is bright green, and the lighting is perfect in the afternoons. Even if you miss June, it's a good idea to get in sooner rather than later. Make Senior Portraits a priority before things like camps and sports start up which can make it complicated to schedule around. At the very least, you for sure want to get in before the start of the new school year as working around classes and extra-curriculars is extra difficult.

Not only does scheduling Senior Portraits early in the summer save you a lot of hassle and time, it can also save you money. You'll find the best sales early in the season. Elite Images, for example, offers discounts on sessions. And what parent doesn't like taking advantage of great deals! 

Best time to do this:  May - August

Senior Portrait Gallery

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About Elite Images

As a full-service photography studio in Dubuque, Iowa for over 25 years, Elite Images really knows how to make Senior Portraits awesome! With fun, fully-guided photoshoots specifically created to bring out your senior's best, confident self for images that you both fall absolutely in love with. Every Senior Portrait session at Elite Images features professional lighting—even outdoors!—and all images are color corrected and fully retouched to bring out your child's best qualities. We even offer a wide range of fun wall art and display products so you can proudly show off your favorites!

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