It’s almost summer vacation, and that means beach days, barbecues and a break from the dreaded alarm clock. If you’re blind or visually impaired and plan on going to college in the next few years, the summer months are also the perfect time to work on your applications and boost your resume with internships or volunteer experiences. The more you prepare now, the more likely you are to be accepted into the school of your choice, and have a great college experience when you get there.
Below are five steps you can take to start preparing for college this summer, and still have time for fun. Get started today: check out the College Success @ Perkins program.
1. Visit large colleges in your area
Most larger colleges and universities hold summer classes, which means their campuses will be just as vibrant in July as they are in September. Before you visit, make a list of amenities that matter most to you – large dorm rooms, an informed campus accessibility office, a robust theater program – and then write down your initial impressions as soon as possible. You’ll likely be touring many colleges before making any decisions, and this will help you remember what you thought of each one.
2. Look into internships and job shadow opportunities
The summer is always a good opportunity to bolster your resume with an internship or other type of job experience. Reach out to family contacts and check in with your state commission for the blind to see what openings are available in your area. If an internship isn’t an option, ask if you can visit a worksite for a day of job shadowing. Either way, you’ll gain a better sense of your career interests, which will help you maximize your college experience for future success.
3. Start your Common Application and prepare for standardized tests
Even if you don’t know where you want to apply, chances are at least one of your selected schools will require the Common Application. Summer is the perfect time to get working on the essay portion of the application. Once you’ve finished, pick two trusted people to read it over and give you feedback. If you haven’t taken the PSATs, ACTs or SATs yet, sign up for a late summer or fall test date now. Give yourself time to request any accommodations you need, like a large-print or braille version or extra time. The accommodation request process can be lengthy, so the sooner you study the requirements, the better.
4. Challenge yourself
Have fun this summer, but also commit to a few activities that help you develop skills for college. If you’re nervous about making friends at a big university, join a club that forces you to improve your social interaction skills. If you’re already part of an organized activity, consider taking on a leadership role that will help you strengthen your communication and advocacy skills. Even little things like preparing lunch independently or doing your own laundry will help you enter college with confidence.
5. Attend a Perkins workshop and learn more about College Success
Sign up for one of Perkins’ College Success workshops designed specifically for college-bound students with visual impairments. Our first workshop, College Application Strategies for Blind and Visually Impaired Students, will be held September 28 from 6-7:30 p.m. on our Watertown campus. Look for an email invitation this summer and check the College Success website for more workshops this fall.
These five tips are a great starting point for college readiness. To continue the journey, consider applying for the nine-month College Success @ Perkins program, where you’ll have a chance to dive deeper into these topics, take college courses for credit, maximize your mobility and technology skills and emerge fully prepared for college success.
Tovah Miller is the director of College Success @ Perkins.