For high school students who want to stand out on their college applications, summer is the time to add some resume gold.
Admissions officers are looking for summer activities that tie in with a student’s overall narrative. Activities that allow students to take a leadership position or connect with an interest in an academic area are ideal.
Summer activities that raise the APA (application point average) include the following:
1. Attend an Enrichment Camp. There are hundreds of different summer enrichment programs, from the local to the international and, between them all, they offer thousands of opportunities. There are art camps, athletic camps, academic programs, adventure based programs, volunteer programs, leadership programs, and more. Some come with the opportunity to earn college credit. A number of programs give high school students the taste of life on a college campus. Importantly, the camp that is chosen should tie in with a student’s long-term goals. Many of these programs exist. Below is a glimpse of two of them.
For rising high school sophomores, juniors, or seniors, Cornell Summer College is one example of a program that allows students to explore existing interests, investigate new topics, examine subjects not offered in high school, and maybe even determine a college major. Programs run from three to six weeks and include a wide range of choices including architecture, design, hotel management, debate, medicine, social change and animal science. Students participate in lectures, discussions, individual and group work, project-based assignments, and field trips. Grades and credits earned in these programs will be recorded on an official Cornell University transcript and can generally be applied toward an undergraduate degree at Cornell or another school.
Another summer program is the University of Miami Summer Scholars Program. This three-week program allows high school juniors and seniors to explore their academic passions and experience what it’s like to be a college student. Students are encouraged to choose an academic track based on their passion/interest. They will learn from a student-centered curriculum, interact with world-class professors, make lasting friendships, and earn up to six college credits. Students will participate in hands-on activities, educational field trips and more.
2. Get a summer job. Students gain valuable real-world experience and earn money towards college. Any job is good, but working in a challenging job that shows colleges leadership skills and-or ties in with a student’s academic interests are best.
3. Become an intern. An internship is unpaid (or token payment) work experience that provides students with an opportunity to gain experience in a field of interest. What isn’t gained in cash, is gained in experience, friends, and networking connections. Basically, it is a summer course. With persistence and luck, a student can even land an internship in a dream career.
4. Do volunteer work. Working for nothing can be profitable.. Students can make a difference, gain experience make networking connections, and explore interests. Students get more points if the volunteer work links with an area of interest. For example, if a student is interested in a career in medicine, he or she can volunteer at a hospital or nursing home. The choices are endless and the hard work and time can pay off. Colleges and scholarship funds truly adore students who can demonstrate that they make the effort to help others. Then there’s always the fact that doing good is a wonderful reason to volunteer in itself
5. Take virtual classes or attend a dual enrollment program. Virtual classes and dual enrollment programs offer students a chance to explore something new. Both can help save time and money if the classes count both for high school credit and college credit. Depending on what college is attended, the credit may reduce the course load per term or even allow early graduation
6. Dive into a language immersion program. There are a number of programs both in the U.S. and abroad. Perfecting a second or third language is always worthwhile. The additional benefits of study abroad programs are cultural immersion and a greater understanding of the world. Colleges look favorably on any language immersion programs.
7. Start a business. Launching a business or collaborating on one can be a great learning experience and even set a student up for success. The general recommendation is that students start a simple business with an immediate and obvious customer base. The goal is to generate a profit. Students with a passion for business who want to learn more about entrepreneurship may consider attending a program to help them get started. Nova Southeastern offers a one-week Entrepreneurship Summer Camp and Personal Enrichment, called ESCAPE. Similar programs and longer programs also exist.
Don’t forget to add some down time into the summer. All students need time to relax, recoup and regenerate. Energy and enthusiasm will be needed for the fall.