Friday, May 11, 2012

Summer with Victory Step

             Summer is almost here! It’s time to relax, hang out with friends, catch up on sleep, take a trip or two, and enjoy yourself before a stressful senior year. But what about that pesky SAT next fall and the college applications which come after it? While they may seem far away right now, separated from the present by innumerable long days on the beach, there are many ways you can prepare now for the academic stresses of next fall. Here are a few tips for the summer before senior year that will help you get ready for the Fall SAT and college applications.

1. Create a reading list

Between the long days on the beach and the long flights, summers are the perfect time to catch up on reading. While reading anything is a step in the right direction, now is also a good time to challenge yourself with a classic. These books will help you learn new vocabulary in context, provide possible examples for the English AP or SAT essays, and maybe even spark an interest in a certain author or genre. Here are some books that my friends and I read in late high school or early college that we enjoyed and thought important:

If you like science fiction, there are plenty of great dystopian novels to read which are very engaging including works by Kurt Vonnegut, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell. Classics such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Frank Herbert’s Dune, or Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities are also great if you want to immerse yourself in alternate worlds.

If what you’re interested in is stories of growing up and/or adolescent rebellion, there are Victorian novels such as George Eliot’s Mill on the Floss, mid-20th Century novels like Ken Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, or more recent works such as Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

If you are interested in war literature there are many great books written about World War I or Vietnam which would help expand your understanding of these moments in history. Good places to start would be All Quiet on the Western Front, The Things They Carried, or any poems by Wilfred Owen.

Lastly, if you just want an exceptionally well-written novel to introduce you to a new way of seeing history, the world, and the English language, you can’t go wrong with Vile Bodies, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Things Fall Apart, Mrs. Dalloway, Howards End, or The Remains of the Day.

Any of these books, plus many more like them, will help you keep your mind engaged in critical reading over the summer, build up your vocabulary, and hopefully provide ideas and characters that stick with you.

2. Start thinking about your college application

Although application due dates are still half a year away, now is a great time to be giving thought to how you are going to construct your application and who you’re going to send it to. If you haven’t already started, now is the time to write that short-list of potential colleges. It is also the time to start thinking about that dreadful application essay and perhaps even to write a few drafts. Starting this essay now will help keep you from having to write it at the same time as other school work and will give you the opportunity to have other people proofread it long before it’s due. When it comes to college essays, lots of time and plenty of eyes are the keys to an effective essay.

3. Take lessons with Victory Step!

The summer before senior year is a great time to prepare for the Fall SAT or ACT because you are not busy with lots of other school work and have time to devote to lessons and practice. While many of you will have taken the SAT or ACT for the first time during the spring of Junior year, now is a good time to focus on what areas can be improved to ensure the best possible score on your applications. At Victory Step, we provide private tutoring throughout the summer that will target your individual needs and work with you in a fun and relaxed way to make your application as strong as possible.

We understand that it is summer, but a little preparation now when you have free time is a lot better than scrambling to get things done during Senior Year. Have a great Summer, but don’t forget to read and plan ahead!

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