Class of 2020: Three actions to take to crush your summer break!

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Sophomores – woo hoo!! You are halfway through your high school career! With two school years under your belt, you’ve definitely gotten the hang of this high school thing. You’ve been working hard and deserve this summer vacation to rest, recharge, and get prepared for your junior year. To make the most of that time away from school, we’ve highlighted three key actions you can take to hit the ground running in the fall.

1. Research leadership opportunities that are aligned with your interests

Structured summer programming offers an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in a professional environment while engaging with interesting peers from across the country. There are many institutions that offer summer programs for students finishing their junior year. They often have application deadlines in the January – May time frame. As a rising junior, this is a great opportunity to do some research on programs that seem interesting so you are prepared to apply in the coming spring. Here is a list of a few interesting programs to kickstart your search:

Additionally, many universities will host high school students for pre-college summer programs. To learn more about that, visit last week’s blog post linked here. Take a look at some of these well-respected programs to see if any pique your interest:

2. Use the micro-scholarship plans of your top RaiseMe colleges as a roadmap

Each university micro-scholarship program will outline 1) The ways you can get the largest scholarship award from the college, and 2) A checklist of actions you can take to be a strong candidate when applying to the school. Let’s look at an example RaiseMe college partner to discuss how to use this information in your summer planning:

Micro Scholarship
Academic Planning
Academic Planning

It is clear from the micro-scholarships available that Southwestern values strong academic performance and the effort it takes to complete rigorous coursework. Keeping your GPA above a 3.4 is worth a lot of money at Southwestern, evidence that they have high academic standards for prospective students. Given the earnings possible for taking honors/advanced as well as AP/IB, you might consider taking a course or more in those categories in your junior year!


You can earn good money for pursuing extracurricular activities. In particular, holding a leadership role not only looks really good to colleges, but can get you a nice micro-scholarship (in this case as much as $2,000). This can mean anything from being a captain on a sports team to being an officer in a school club. In addition, summertime can be a great opportunity to complete some volunteer hours! At Southwestern, that’s worth as much as $2,500, and you’re likely killing two birds with one stone by making progress toward graduation requirements!


You’re probably going to take one (if not more) of the above listed exams in your junior year. Scoring well on them not only demonstrates academic mastery, but also makes you eligible for a lot of scholarship earnings! It’s worthwhile to spend some time this summer thinking about which exams are coming junior year so you can commit to the study habits that will set you up for success.

Demonstrating Interest in Colleges

If you’re able to this summer, it’s not too early to visit college campuses and get a sense for what you might look for in a best-fit school. In addition, there will be college fairs coming up next school year where you’ll be able to speak to college representatives and learn more about the schools you aren’t able to see in-person. Check in with your counselors to learn which colleges they plan to have at your fairs and come prepared with questions that will help you figure out which colleges will meet your needs and future goals.

3. Log those volunteer hours

We mentioned this in the micro-scholarship overview, but it warrants covering in more detail. Completing volunteer work is a step toward high school graduation as well as a way to distinguish yourself for scholarship awards. But just as importantly, completing volunteer hours can be a great way to build meaningful relationships with your community and explore public interest work. You might find that, in volunteering for the Red Cross, you have a strong interest in public health. Or by working at a youth camp, you may realize you love being with students and might make a great teacher. Volunteer experiences can help your career exploration and, down the road, demonstrate to colleges who you are as a person. Take some time to speak with your counselors and explore local volunteer opportunities available to you this summer.


Class of 2020, you are so close to finishing your sophomore year! In addition to resting and spending quality time with friends and family, take these three steps to get a head-start on your junior year:

  • Research summer programs to apply to during the spring of your junior year
  • Check out the details of RaiseMe micro-scholarship plans to budget your time accordingly, and see additional activities you can do to make yourself an even more compelling candidate!
  • Find some time to volunteer with an organization this summer

When you are intentional with your summer vacation, you’re setting a game plan for your future. Steer on, captain!

“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul” – William Ernest Henley, from “Invictus”

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