Ahhh summer...long lazy days, beaches, parks, marathon video game sessions, Netflix binging...or not. No one is saying you can’t enjoy your summer break, but it’s also a time to explore ways in which you can strengthen your college prospects. Here are some ideas on how to spend a productive summer that can add value to your application:
Volunteer at an organization related to your potential college interests. Pre-med? Don’t just look at hospitals but consider nursing homes, physical rehab centers, community clinics. Love animals? Shelters always need volunteers. History buff? Museums, re-enactment groups, archival centers could use help. Think outside the box for those areas you’re interested in or Google “volunteer opportunities for X majors” for ideas. If possible, continue volunteering after the summer too.
More formal than volunteering, applying for internships can provide more structured environments that can offer research opportunities, work experience, and even potentially academic credit (check with your school.)
Independent research or project. Working on that Eagle Scout Badge? This is a great time to do that. Want to pursue an independent interest? Try to find a teacher who is willing to work with you to develop a summer plan to do research in your field of study and review your work as you progress – perhaps even get academic credit.
Try your hand at college courses. Whether you take a class or two independently or enroll in an organized summer program designed for high school students, challenging yourself with college level courses can give you some insight into what will be expected of you at a more competitive level, and may potentially provide you with transferable credit. Whether or not you get credit, submitting a successful transcript will indicate to colleges your ability to do college work.
A good old regular job. For many students, working and saving for college applications or other expenses is a necessity-or perhaps you just want some extra spending cash. Colleges recognize the value of taking on the responsibility of working, interacting with customers and/or co-workers and having an employer rely on you. It doesn’t matter whether you’re stocking shelves, life-guarding at a pool or slinging burgers, a job can be a valuable growth experience.
Study for the SAT or the ACT. You'll need a good score to be accepted into a good college, so it never hurts to start early. For more information on getting help with your SAT/ACT studies, visit our partner, Summit Prep.
Incidentally, your supervisor at any of these activities can provide useful letters of recommendation that can give colleges a perspective on your abilities outside the classroom.