Start Planning Your High School Student Summer Now

January is here and believe it or not, now is the time to start planning for a high school student summer. Summer activities can help make a student’s college application more competitive by demonstrating a student’s curiosity, drive, and ability to take initiative. Colleges not only want to see that a student is committed to extracurriculars throughout the school year, but they also look for evidence that students are developing their interests and stretching themselves during the summer, as well. Whether a student wants to explore a new activity or build on a current interest, there are so many options available. 

For students who are looking to take advantage of the summer vacation to boost their resumes and experiences, here are six ideas to consider:

  1. Participate in a summer program or enroll in a class. Summer program options exist to satisfy almost every interest. From performing arts to STEM subjects, there are summer programs of all shapes and sizes to help students explore their interests. There are also camps and clubs for almost every activity and sport. Many colleges and universities, offer residential programs for high school students during the summer. Students can spend anywhere from one to seven weeks living and learning on a college campus with other students from around the world. Not only does attending a program like this demonstrate a student’s interest in a particular subject, but it also allows them to dive deeper into their favorite topics or even explore a new area of interest. Plus, students will get a taste of college life by living in a dorm, eating in the dining hall, and hanging out on campus. Students can also take free courses on sites such as Coursera and edX. These sites offer courses in tons of subjects from data science to American poetry, and students can participate in real-time or watch past lectures from professors at places like Harvard and Stanford. Students can also earn professional certificates.
  2. Expand on a personal interest. Start a business or create a project. At International College Counselors, we’ve worked with students who have turned their interests and talents into amazing resume builders. Some students have started a business over the summer when they have plenty of time to devote to it. Others pursue personal projects like creating a website, contributing to a blog, or writing a book. Without homework and school commitments, summer is an ideal time to pursue these interests.
  3. Gain work experience firsthand. Securing a job or internship demonstrates commitment, responsibility, and maturity. Plus, internships and jobs can help students identify and choose a career path while discovering new strengths and interests. For example, if a student is interested in working as a veterinarian, they should explore opportunities at an animal hospital, like completing clerical tasks or even shadowing the doctors. In any job or internship opportunity, students should demonstrate their drive and offer to help with additional tasks that match up with their interests, such as volunteering to do basic research for a lawyer or managing a company’s social media. Oftentimes, employers are willing to write an additional letter of recommendation for students to submit with their applications, so it’s important to show them all of your amazing qualities!
  4. Join a community service organization. Volunteering offers students a chance to make a positive difference while learning real world skills. Students interested in social justice, community organizing, or environmental work can also explore possible career directions. Volunteering also promotes personal growth and builds self-esteem. As with the job opportunities, students can take the initiative and seek more responsibility. Better yet, students can lead their own service project to contribute to a cause that is important to them.
  5. Contribute knowledge through research. Conducting research in high school may elevate a student in the college admissions process. Research projects illustrate passion and help provide evidence of a student’s abilities. Students should seek to do research is a field they are interested in. Popular choices include biology, chemistry, and related topics in the medical field, as well as sociological fields like political science and economics. Students can impress a college admissions committee even more if they attend a selective research program and/or the research a student does is published.
  6. Travel. We know families like to travel over the summer. Students who want to spend time in a foreign country, and still look attractive to admissions committees, can do so. Colleges want to see they’ve learned and grown from the experience. For example, students who are studying a second or third language can look into immersion programs where they can practice their skills and learn the language better through real-life situations. If your family is planning a trip, it might be the perfect opportunity to visit a few college campuses, too!

We understand that summer is also a time to unwind and recharge. We encourage students to spend time with their family and friends, read a good book, and relax.

IMPORTANT ICC TIP: Start making summer plans as soon as possible. Summer programs and courses can fill up fast, especially the popular ones. Many application deadlines are as early as February and may require essays, letters of recommendation, and even test scores, so get started soon!

Connect your student with the ideal high school student summer experience. For any and all help with identifying productive summer plans for high school students and/or the college admissions process, contact the college admissions counselors at International College Counselors. Visit or call 1-954-414-9986.