Winter break is almost here. Time to start thinking about summer.
For high school students who want to stand out in college admissions, summer is the time for students to enhance their college applications.
Admissions officers are looking for summer activities that tie in with a student’s overall narrative. Programs that either connect a student with an interest in an academic area or promote the student as a global citizen are ideal.
Summer activities that may raise the APA (application point average) include the following:
- Attend an academic program. There are hundreds of different summer programs, from the local to the international and, between them all, they offer thousands of opportunities. Many selective colleges now offer at least one pre-college program for high school students. Colleges like Harvard, Stanford, Brown, and Colombia all offer programs where students can participate in lectures and discussions with college professors. Students can also typically participate in project-based assignments. Although attending these selective programs do not improve a student’s chances of gaining admissions at that particular college, these programs can help in other ways. The programs give students a taste of life on college campus; they get to live in dorms, and experience attending lectures. Students get to meet new people, oftentimes students with similar interests. The most important part of attending any of these programs is that the program should tie in with a student’s long term goals. Such programs can indicate a student’s enthusiasm for a specific subject and help students further explore their subject of choice, both important for admissions.
- Attend a special interest camp or program. For students with special interests like art, music, theatre, and athletics, special interest camps and programs can be of great value. Students may be the best musician or artist in their school, but these camps and programs enable students to see the real competition beyond their high school. Getting the lead in your high school show isn’t as impressive as getting the lead role at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp, for example. For an art student, some programs like SCAD Rising Star can help students develop portfolios that can then be submitted to a college. At the same time, programs like Berklee Performance Program, for students interested music, or IMG Academy, for students interested in tennis, can really help students hone their skills.
- 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.
- Start a business starting with a summer program. Launching a business or collaborating on one can be a great learning experience and even set a student up for success. Students with a passion for business who want to learn more about entrepreneurship may consider attending a program to help them get started. University of Florida offers a four-week Young Entrepreneurs for Leadership & Sustainably summer program, called YELS, while LaunchX’s four- and five-week programs at MIT, UT Austin, and Northwestern prepare students to create their own startups. Similar programs and shorter programs also exist.
- Immerse in a summer program abroad. Learning more while getting to know the language and culture of another country is an extraordinary experience and provides good material for a college essay. While attending the Alexander Muss High School in Israel for example, students travel around the country while learning about its history. Participants can receive a transcript for the core history class and are eligible for up to six transferable college credits from the University of Miami.
Final note: 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.