Ah, summer. The time of late sunsets, BBQs, fireflies, and college prep. That’s right, summer is the perfect time to prepare for college and increase your odds of admission to boot. If that last sentence made you groan, never fret, because there are some great summer activities you can do (sometimes with friends!) to impress the people in charge of your college acceptance.
Hobbies, sports, and clubs!
Colleges don’t just want numbers or test scores, they want people. And people are passionate about a lot of different things. Use this summer to hone a unique talent that you have–like performing magic, riding a unicycle while juggling, or ribbon-dancing! Participate in a club dedicated to something you really love–book club at the local library, chess club, film club, the list is endless! Or play in a summer sports league–summer is prime time for tennis, swimming, and baseball!
The point is: show your dedication to something you enjoy. Many people think being involved in a ton of different things impresses college admissions officers, but the truth is that they’d rather see you really dedicated to a handful of things, rather than slightly involved in many.
There are hosts of different programs dedicated to summertime adventure, learning, and experiences. From the traditional summer camps, to vacationing abroad, to programs on college campus.
Vacationing abroad with a program can leave you with amazing memories, fresh experiences, and becoming immersed in a culture totally unlike your own. Going out and seeing the world, meeting its diverse people, and broadening your own horizons is a great way to catch the eye of an admissions officer. If you’re worried about expenses, many summer abroad programs offer scholarships and financial aid.
Many colleges also offer summer camps on campus for high school students. Themed around a variety of subjects, these programs are a great way to explore a school you’re interested in and get a taste of college life, all while making new friends with similar interests and learning a lot of new things. (I attended a few writing camps in a campus program, and loved every crazy minute of it. The experience left me with lifelong friends, a newfound passion, and the surety that I wanted to attend school there).
Without school, summer is a great time to make some money at your workplace. But jobs are much more than just about earning that paycheck. Employment can be a great teacher, imparting lessons on you like time-management, problem solving, and how to interact with different types of people.
It would really be a bonus if you could land a job somehow related to what you’d like to study at college. To admission officers, that shows that you have a direction you’re interested in and the initiative to go out and get started in the field at such a young age.
On top of it being a good deed–a reward in itself–volunteering also earns you kudos in terms of college admissions. They want to recruit good people who have an interest in the community, after all.
Find a movement that you’re passionate about–working at animal shelters, packing food for the hungry, working at a soup kitchen, make care packages for soldiers, organize a donations drive for homeless people. Whatever cause you think is important, go out and make a difference!
Yes, even as a high schooler you can intern at a business. Be it paid or unpaid, internships offer quality adult/business world experience, and interning in high school will give you a leg up on those critical skills. Not to mention all of the valuable connections you will make. Networking is a powerful tool, my friends, as internships can extend to full-time jobs or bosses might recommendation letters for you down the road.
Similar to the part-time job, it’s ideal to find an internship that aligns with your interests and career aspirations. Starting to cultivate contacts in a field relevant to your career goals is paramount, and if you’re starting before college, all the better! Ask lots of questions and work hard.
Summer class at local community college
Why not get a jump-start on college credits? By taking a summer class you embark on the road to graduation early on, which is good because graduating on time can be tricky. In addition to the credits, however, is the fact that you’ll be learning relevant information about whatever interests you! It’s a sneak peek at what college academic life will be like, even if you decide to go to a 4-year university rather than a community college first.
Taking a class will show initiative, interest, and dedication–three things that college admissions officers love. This is a great way to showcase that you’re their ideal college applicant.
Make a name for yourself online
By which we mean start a blog or create a LinkedIn profile. Get your name out there in a positive light. Admissions officers do tend to search their candidates online to see what pops up, so if you are proactive and engaged online make sure it’s by doing something creative, professional, and/or interesting!
This also means you should clean up your social media presence. Take down embarrassing, controversial, or unseemly photos and posts about yourself (and avoid them in the future). If you wouldn’t show it to your grandma, you probably shouldn’t post it online, because admissions officers and future employers are indeed watching.
Visit colleges, meet with admissions
And for our grand finale, perhaps the most important thing to do this summer: go out and visit colleges! Some people think that visiting in the summer won’t give you that “real campus” feel, which isn’t entirely true. There are summer classes and students who live on campus year-round. So go out and explore your college list!
Additionally, summer is prime time to interview with college admissions officers, the very people responsible for your potential acceptance. Setting up an interview really demonstrates your interest in a college and also gives you a great opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the school. Make sure you go prepared, however, because they’ll ask you just as many questions. But we know you’ll nail them!
It may not all be ice-cream and fun in the sun, but the summer months are a great time to dig in deep and ready yourself for your college career. Your future self will thank you in the long run.