Fun in the sun is sneaking up quickly as summer is almost here. Homework, projects and college can be a thing of the past once that bell rings on the last day of school. But summer is the perfect time for students, particularly high school juniors, to jump-start their college plans and process. 

I wanted to share a few tips that students should keep in mind as their junior year ends:

Community involvement
As tempting as it can be to sit around and catch up on the latest episodes of "Stranger Things," students should take initiative in becoming involved within their community and/or school campus. Whether it's building their soft skills by interning at a company, accumulating community service hours at their local food bank or tutoring younger students, summer is a perfect time for students to develop confidence in their leadership skills and continue improving their academic resume. 

Study for the SAT/ACT 
While most students should have already taken the SAT or ACT for the first time in the spring of their junior year, they should also reflect on how prepared they want to feel when they take it for a second time during senior year. Nowadays, there are a variety of free online resources. Students can check out video tutorials from Khan Academy, or take practice tests available from College Board. For the ACT, students can also look at Number2 for tips and strategies. Studying over the summer for these college entrance exams can be a small change in routine that makes a world of difference!  

Attend college fairs 
An important piece of researching colleges is attending a college fair within your school district or community. This can be an opportunity for students to interact with admissions officers and even alumni representing a college or university campus. Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL) hosts college fairs across the country with a focus on private liberal arts colleges. Students and their families can check for a CTCL fair near their city at ctcl.org. It's worth a look. Is transportation a problem? CollegeWeekLive holds virtual college fairs online, and students can join in the conversation by looking at the online events calendar.  

Summer enrichment programs 
A great avenue for students to kick-start their mindset on future careers or even long-term goals are summer enrichment programs. There is a wide range of summer programs that can encourage a variety of skills and interests -- whether it is shadowing doctors in a pre-med program or learning the ropes of specific STEM fields, or even participating in research at a local college. According to their interests and/or curiosities, students can begin researching these types of opportunities on College Greenlight or Summer Program Finder.  

College readiness programs 
Participating in programs that assist with the college process can truly inspire students to seek out their options and begin working on various pieces of the college application process. At the TGR Learning Lab in Anaheim, California, we offer College Bound Academy geared toward Anaheim Union High School District (AUHSD) students interested in learning more about the college admissions and financial aid process for four-year universities. Programs like College Bound Academy can make for a productive and informative summer. Students can ask a high school counselor if their school or community might offer a similar program or research opportunities online! If you happen to be an AUHSD student, contact the TGR Learning Lab for more information on College Bound Academy at (714) 765-8040. 

One more thing to add to the summer checklist is exploring College Blueprint, a self-paced module via TGR EDU: EXPLORE, which gives the opportunity to walk through elements of the college process. From family discussion starter activities to full lesson plans, educators, students and families will all benefit from a visit to TGR EDU: Explore! 

So juniors, use this time wisely to prep for the future. You can still enjoy a summer day at the movies with your friends, but you shouldn't forget to touch up that academic resume or work on that college essay!  

Champions of the unexpected.