NYU student Ayla holding two violet pom-pom in front of the Kimmel Center for University Life.
“While virtual tours and using internet sources are great, nothing beats being in a mock class at the university itself. I would say if you have the ability to, visit the campus/college as soon as you can—they get booked very quickly during admissions season.” —Ayla Tariq, she/her, Global Liberal Studies

The summer months between your junior and senior year of high school are special. With college just around the corner, you want to enjoy this time—to spend it with family and friends, reflecting on how far you’ve come. At the same time, there’s a lot you can do to get ahead on college preparation. So we asked five NYU students who just completed their first year to reflect on the summer before their senior year of high school. Check out what they had to say!

An NYU student ice-skating with their arms extended wide.
“Getting started on the Common Application that summer can really help because once school begins, it’s a lot harder to balance everything. Just filling out the extracurriculars, the awards, and the classes, and then making time for the essay, is an easy place to start.” —Catherine Zhang, she/hers, Business and Political Economy

What was the most important thing you did to prepare for college during the summer before your senior year of high school?

“The most important thing I did was research. Since I had my heart set on NYU, I planned to apply early decision. Still, I needed to put in the time to research NYU as well as other colleges. This allowed me to not only narrow down my list but also find colleges that were the right fit, whether that was because of the professors or class structure. Doing proper research assured me that NYU was the school for me. This gave me confidence in my application and the place I would spend the next four years of my academic career.” —Molly Koch, they/them, Global Liberal Studies

“Make sure to find something that interests you and do it to the utmost of your ability. The most important thing I did that summer was pursue my passion and refine my skills in music. From a young age, I had a strong interest in music. During high school, I participated in various music-related activities. Through these diverse musical opportunities, I explored and deepened my love for music. At the same time, I developed essential skills and gained invaluable experience. Additionally, I think that summer internships or volunteer experiences are a must! Utilize this time to discover the field you want to explore.” Andrew Z. Wang, he/him, Music Theory and Composition with a concentration in concert music

“I took advantage of virtual tours a lot, which aided me a great deal during my college search. Taking tours eliminated some schools I wasn’t so sure about and solidified the ones that made sense based on location and access. For me, it was really important for a school to have access to transportation. What’s more, I was really interested in student life, particularly spiritual and religious life. I wanted to see what facilities schools had to offer in relation to those areas. If there was a mosque within a 15-minute walk of campus? Great! If the school had its own religious space for those observing? Even better. Virtual tours are really accessible and informative.” Ayla

Student Molly Koch smiling across from the Silver Center for Arts and Science building.
“My advice is to not only focus on college. Yes, prepping can be helpful, but it’s OK if you’re unsure where to begin or if it takes you longer than your peers to start. Everyone’s college application process will be different, so try your best not to compare yourself to others.” —Molly

What is something you wish you knew that summer?

“I wish I had toured more colleges. That summer, I had a list of about 30 colleges I was interested in. I didn’t even end up applying to half of them. I wish I had sat down and looked at which colleges I actually wanted to go to, then made a plan to tour those specific schools. And I mean actually tour them. When I did visit a college, I just walked around the campus. But now that I’m a tour guide myself, I recognize just how much information you get out of attending a live tour.”

“Looking back to that summer, I wish I took more time to relax. I am not suggesting doing nothing all summer. However, taking the time to enjoy it while I had it would have been beneficial. It really is such a different experience in high school than it is at NYU.” Armaan Gupta, he/him, Media, Culture, and Communication

“Something I wish I knew was that not every college looks pretty on paper, and their website might not give you that ‘home’ feeling. If your list changes or you narrow it down, it’s completely OK. You’ll end up where you’re supposed to be even if your list is shorter. That will actually help you make the big decision in the long run. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the college application process because you only get to experience it once!” —Molly

NYU student Armaan Gupta stands in front of a flower-filled storefront that sells chocolates.
“That summer, I thought about exactly what I wanted in a school in terms of size, diversity, acceptance rate, location, and cost. After I had selected a list of schools, I looked at majors, minors, and everything related to academics and student life. Then, I asked myself the essential question: Can I see myself as a student at this school?” —Armaan

For high school juniors heading into summer, what is your advice?

“Be gentle with yourself! It’s a bittersweet but beautiful time in your life. You’re entering young adulthood, which is scary and exciting at once. A lot of the college process is about patience. Whether it’s waiting on early or regular decision responses or getting your supplements reviewed, be patient and kind to yourself. Don’t try to juggle everything all at once.” Ayla

“My advice for someone entering the summer before their senior year is to enjoy the home-cooked food. And give your parents, siblings, and pets a big hug. You get to go out and live this new life in college, but they go back home after helping you move in and don’t have your presence anymore. I would do anything for a plate of my mom’s butter chicken right about now.” —Armaan

“First, participate in summer workshops, college connection programs, and other precollege experiences that help you explore your interests, build your skills, and gain a better understanding of college life. You can also prepare for the SAT, ACT, TOEFL, or any other standardized tests. I’d also recommend trying to connect with professors. For instance, if there are particular professors whose research interests you, don’t hesitate to reach out to them. Introduce yourself, express your interest in their work, and ask any questions you might have. Finally, stay organized and take time for yourself! It’s really important to maintain a positive mindset and focus on the opportunities and experiences ahead of you. Enjoy the journey and embrace both the rain and sunshine during this significant period of transition. You got this, and I am waiting for you at NYU!” —Andrew

NYU student Andrew Wang and a large group of students all dressed in NYU attire.
“I personally think that summer internships, programs, and volunteer experience are a MUST! Utilize this period of time to discover the field you want to explore.” —Andrew

Kelly McHugh-Stewart is a Senior Writer and Strategist for NYU’s University Relations and Public Affairs Office of Marketing Communications, where she seeks out and enjoys telling stories that help people understand the world through a new lens. Kelly holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Kansas State University. Her reporting and personal essays have appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Reader’s Digest, CNN Opinion, and Sports Illustrated, among others.