College admissions are getting more and more competitive with each passing year. Savvy students know that summer is the prime time for students to build their profiles for college applications. Many colleges ask students if they participated in “additional academic enrichment,” therefore make sure you don’t waste those precious few months doing nothing. Many summer experiences are by application early, with many applications openings in late winter/early spring. Get a jump on your summer planning today! Here are a few ideas of experiences that are valued by colleges:
Get a Job – It is not too late to get a summer job and add work experience to your profile. Check with your local recreation center, restaurants, and community centers that hire high school students for entry-level jobs. Jobs show colleges many positive attributes, such as dependability, work ethic, and knowledge of the working world. New job searches allow search functions just for teens and are also available on search engines like SnagAJob. Check with your high school, parks & recreation centers, retail, and restaurants for typical jobs open to teenagers. Your local Chamber of Commerce may also have some ideas for companies that hire teens. Last but not least, why not reach out to your local referee society and become a youth rugby referee? Get paid to help out in the sport you love!
Volunteer – Create change in your local community. What cause are you passionate about? Do you love animals? Spending time at an animal shelter or helping with a local animal rescue would be a great experience. Do you love reading and literacy? Volunteer at the local library. All colleges want to admit students with a larger worldview and compassion for those around them. Try VolunteerMatch.org to find opportunities in your community. Click the “Advanced” button and filter by opportunities for “Teens.” Even reach out to your local rugby club and volunteer as a coach for youth rugby leagues, camps, etc.
Job Shadow – Do you have dreams of becoming a doctor, lawyer, or engineer? What better way to explore your future professions than to observe someone in the field, even just for one or two days. Many college applications now ask essay questions requiring you to explain your interest and passion in a particular choice major. Job shadowing gives you first-hand experience of that career and gives specific items you can write about in an essay. Don’t be intimidated to call your local doctor, veterinarian, or “fill in the blank” office and ask if you would be able to schedule a job shadow for the summer.
Take a Class – There is no better way to demonstrate your interest in a particular field, get ahead in high school, and build credit towards college (save $$) than to take a college course over the summer at your local community college. Interested in a career in business – check out an offering of Business 101 or Intro to Accounting. Budding Psychologist? Register for Psychology 101 this summer. Or, pick a class that sounds interesting to you! You never know if a college course this summer might pique your interest for a future career! It’s also a wonderful way to get insight into how a college course is administered – from understanding how to read college-level syllabuses to working with professors and T.A.s, students who arrive on a college campus with some idea of how a college class is run have a distinct edge. You can even take a class from the comfort of your home with the flexibility of taking actual college courses from schools like MIT, Harvard, and Cal through mass open online courses (MOOCs) such as edX.
Take a Class (Summer College Enrichment) - You can take this a step further by enrolling in a longer-term enrichment program at a variety of colleges. These types of programs allow a deeper dive into an area of interest and let you experience more of the "college lifestyle" by living in the dorms and working with current professors. Some reputable ones include Brown Pre-College, UCLA Summer Sessions, and Georgetown Hoya Summer to name a few.
Start working on your applications (Seniors) – Take a look at the essays your colleges will be asking you to write and begin to brainstorm what you will write about. Watch some great videos on how to write a unique and impactful essay (there are tons on youtube - we love anything by The Colege Essay Guy!)
When all is said and done, I highly recommend keeping a journal throughout your summer. Make notes about surprising experiences, interactions with people, things that surprised you, or what you learned. These summer experiences are chock full of ideas for college essays. Keeping a journal is a great way to help you proactively prepare for your future essays.
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