The end of summer.  As rising 8th grade families approach this key and perhaps anxiety-provoking milestone, I often get asked, “What should I have accomplished this summer to be in the best position for the upcoming high school admissions season?”  Even with a few weeks left in the summer, it’s not too late to make some progress and better position yourself for a busy fall.


Here are some of the top summer objectives we support families with and you may wish to consider – even if it means scratching the surface with these items. I should note that this does not necessarily equate to dozens of hours or ruining what’s left of your summer.  What’s most important is taking small, consistent steps, hour by hour, over an extended period of time – even if it’s only a few weeks.


  • Self-assessment. Before identifying schools, have you given any thought to what type of school environment might be most suited to your child, their strengths and interests, etc?
  • The fundamentals. Do you have a general sense of how the application process works, including how candidates are considered for your target schools and what you must accomplish in the fall?
  • The school list(s). Is it sufficiently robust and well-balanced?  Is it on paper (ideally computer), and have you noted your initial thoughts on each school?  
  • School selection criteria.  Do you know each school’s requirements and target criteria?  Is there anything you can accomplish before school starts?
  • Audition or test prep planning. Is this for you given your target list of schools, and even more importantly, given what represents a good fit for you?
  • Your team.  It’s nearly impossible to go it alone.  Do you know who can support you in the months to come, whether it is your school counselor or someone else who truly knows how the process can work for you (and not the other way around)?   Try your best not to get bogged down and stressed out with the barrage of generic, sometimes inaccurate advice that will (and maybe already has) come your way that may have no bearing on your family.
  • Academic portfolio. It’s always worth gathering a representative sample of top work from last year, if available. With certain schools, this can come in handy later on.
  • General organization & planning. It’s also nearly impossible to navigate the 8th grade year without a calendar, notebook, folders, or other tools and resources that can make life more manageable.  


Remember, it’s not about staying up late and cramming – it’s about consistency over time in small bits. And even if your progress is small before the school year and you don’t cover everything outlined above, anything you accomplish represents that much less to worry about after school begins. So celebrate small successes!


Want more detail about these items, as well as what to expect in the fall? Don’t forget to register for my free webinar on August 28 at 7pm, “Selective Public High School Admissions:  Top Strategies for Success!