June 2012 Newsletter
As we approach the summer and classes are letting out, it’s time to start firming up your summer plans if you haven’t done so already. If you’re thinking of spending your last summers before going off to college by hanging out at the beach or playing video games on your sofa, you might want to think again. That might be what teenagers do in the movies, but those teenagers in the movies aren’t worried about the highly selective college admissions process. And, unlike in the movies, you can’t just start your own college when all of the colleges to which you apply reject you. Accepted was a work of fiction.
So what should you be doing this summer to help you stand out from other applicants? You should participate in an activity that is consistent with the rest of your application – one that weaves a narrative about you. For instance, if you’re involved in science research throughout the school year, why not work in a lab this summer and get some real world experience? Maybe you can even get some research data to write a paper (which you can then submit to such science competitions as the Intel Science Talent Search, Siemens or Google). If you’re a runner, get faster over the summer. Improve your leg strength so college coaches will want to recruit you. Run in races. If you’re a distance runner, run in marathons.
If you’re feeling pressure because many of your friends are enrolling in expensive summer programs at some of our nation’s most elite colleges, know that you don’t need to do that. Just because its easy to be accepted into the Columbia or the Stanford summer program, that doesn’t mean that attending one of these programs is going to give you an edge in the admissions process to these schools, because it won’t. It will surely help that you’ve visited these colleges, but then again, you should always visit the colleges to which you apply. You don’t need to enroll in expensive summer programs in the hope of improving your odds of admission. College admissions counselors can see right through that.
So instead, spend your summer furthering your goals in the activity or activities that are most important to you, the activity that you’re most passionate about. Remember, as Malcolm Gladwell states, you need to do something for 10,000 hours in order to be successful at an activity – whether it is computer programming, swimming, acting, or community service.
You might also consider getting a job. Contrary to popular belief, college admissions counselors actually like that students work at summer jobs. It shows the student may not have grown up in a privileged environment. College admissions counselors respect applicants who work at real jobs.
Aside from listing your summer activities on your activity sheet, some colleges specifically ask that you write a few lines about how you spent your last two summers. So make your summers count! Summer is also the best time to write your college essays! And don’t just write the essays for your Early Decision / Early Action school choice. Write your essays for all of the colleges to which you intend to apply through Regular Decision in the event you are deferred or denied by your Early Decision / Early Action school.
If your SAT / ACT / Subject Test scores aren’t where they should be, the summer is also a great time to study so that you can improve these scores! At Ivy Coach, we offer ACT and SAT tutoring (as well as tutoring for the Subject Tests).
A well-planned summer experience where you develop your interests and your talents just might help you gain admission to the college of your choice.