It’s February. Now is the time to start planning for summer. What students choose to do over the summer can make a difference when it comes to college admissions. Colleges look for evidence that students are continually developing their interests throughout their time in high school, and summer is the perfect time to do just that.
For students who want to successfully show they’ve used their summer wisely and, ultimately, stand out when it comes time to applying to college, here are five directions to consider:
- Develop core interests/ Bolster current activities: With all the summer programs out there, options exist to satisfy almost every interest. Theatre and music kids can attend a number of performing arts camps and programs. Likewise, students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields have plenty of ways to gain valuable experience over the summer through a summer program or an internship. There are also camps and clubs for almost every activity and sport.
- Explore personal interests: Start a business, participate in research, or join a community service organization. At International College Counselors, we’ve worked with students who started amazing businesses over the summer, who worked tirelessly for non-profit organizations, who performed research that was then published in journals, and students who pursued personal projects like creating a website, blog and book. Without homework and overpacked schedules, summer is an ideal time to pursue these interests.
- Gain firsthand work experience: Working at a job or internship demonstrates commitment, responsibility, and maturity. Plus, internships and jobs can help students choose a career path or discover new strengths or interests. For example, if you’re interested in working toward an architecture degree you may consider office work at an architectural firm. In any job opportunity, students can ask their manager if they can help with additional tasks that match up with their interests, such as volunteering to do basic research for a lawyer or managing the social media for a company.
- Expand your mind: Interested in learning something new? From cybersecurity to marine biology, students can take a variety of classes for credit or enrichment in the summer. Even better, students can experience college campus life while taking courses. Many colleges and universities offer residential pre-college programs for high school students during the summer. By participating in one of the programs, students can see what it’s like to study a favorite subject – or explore a new area of potential interest – in college and get a taste of college life by living in a dorm, eating in the dining hall, and hanging out on campus.
- Travel: We know families like to travel over the summer. Students who want to spend time in a foreign country, and still look good to admissions committees, need to do so productively. For example, students who are studying a second or third language can look into programs where they can practice their skills and explore opportunities to learn the language through real-life situations. Summer can also be a good time to visit colleges and narrow down a college list. This year, the expert advisors at International College Counselors will be providing the college admissions seminars for the All-Star Academic Adventure on June 10-22, a program that visits 16 colleges including Emory, Duke, George Washington, Penn and NYU, and we look forward to having your student join us.
We understand that summer should also be a time to relax and unwind. We encourage students to spend time with their family and friends, read a good book, and enjoy being a child.
IMPORTANT ICC TIP: Start planning summer as soon as possible, especially if your student would like to attend a summer program. Many application deadlines are as early as March. Some of these applications can be as complex as a college application, requiring essays, letters of recommendation, and even test scores, so get started soon.