Making the Most of Summer
Picking strong summer experiences is an essential part of the college preparation process. Schools want to enroll productive students, who enjoy taking on challenges and interesting projects even during the “vacation months”.
So, what makes a great summer activity? The answer really depends on who you are!
Here are a few suggestions that will hopefully inspire you:
An Internship – This is a great way to test-drive a profession, get practical experience, and perhaps get your foot in the door at certain institutions. Most tend to be unpaid (especially for high school students), although in a few cases, you could receive a stipend. Since the majority of internships are designated for students who are at least rising seniors, set your sights on one of these for the summer between junior and senior years. That being said, if you proactively reach out to researchers or employers to ask for an internship, you may just find what you’re looking for!
A Pre-College Program – Look at this as an opportunity to study something that your high school doesn’t offer. On a college campus, you can find courses in anything, from “Nanotechnology” to “The History of the Pig in America”. Use a pre-college program to experience what it’s like to live on a college campus and even earn college credit before graduating from high school. In some cases, there are affiliated extracurricular and mentorship programs that allow you to develop you interests. Some of the programs are competitive; others are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. None are known to give you an admissions advantage when you apply to the same school later on, so look at them as a chance to learn something new.
Volunteer Work – If you are a highly compassionate person, or simply passionate about a cause, this is the experience for you. Since many students do not do community service beyond their required hours, you will shine in your applications for going the extra mile in this regard. For some schools, like Georgetown or Davidson, having completed meaningful volunteer work influences admissions decisions. The other great thing about volunteer work is that you can do it anywhere, either close to home or halfway around the world. It’s up to you to pick the destination.
A Sports Camp – Student-Athletes, who want a competitive edge, should set their sights on these summer programs. Not only will they help you fine-tune your skills during the off-season, but they could also put you in front of prospective recruiters. If your goal is to play a varsity-level sport in college, then you definitely want to check out these opportunities.
While these four types only cover only some of the options out there, they are definitely a great starting point. Whatever your interests may be, don’t spend your entire summer sitting on the beach. Get out, get involved, and do something!