Academic Tip of the Month – Use Your Summer Wisely

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College admissions is getting more and more competitive with each passing year. Savvy students know that summer is prime time for students to build their profile 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 which 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 in with your local recreation center, restaurants and community centers which 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 just for teens are also available on search engines like 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 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 who have a larger world view and have compassion for those around them. Try to find opportunities in your community. Click the “Advanced” button and filter by opportunities for “Teens.”

  • 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 in major. Job Shadowing gets you first-hand experience of that career and gives specific items you can then write about in an essay. Don’t be intimidated to simply 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.

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  • 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, simply pick a class that sounds interesting to you! You never know if a college course this summer might peak an 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 has 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.

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 pro-actively help you prepare for your future essays.

Updated 5/27/2021

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