June 2010 Newsletter
After a stressful school year, there is no doubt that as a high school student you need a break. However, riding the waves during the day and hanging out with your friends at night may seem like the perfect way to spend your vacation, but not when you may have to answer the following question on a college application: “Describe what you did this past summer and the summer before that.”
Why not consider the best of both worlds? You can satisfy admissions counselors with your answers and at the same time still have some time to do what you love best during those lazy days of summer.
Here are some ideas that may make your summer much more productive.
- Take a course. You may be interested in a particular course that your high school doesn’t offer, or you may just want to get a course or two out of the way. These classes can be taken at a local college, or you can put your new iPad to good use and take a class online while sitting on the beach. As long as the course is not a high school graduation requirement, don’t be concerned if your high school counselor has told you that it won’t be included on your transcript. On every application there is room to include other courses that you’ve taken, and college admissions counselors will be impressed that you have pursued this independent initiative.
- Develop your skills and talents. Whether you’re an athlete, a musician, an artist, an actor, a math or science researcher, or a poet, the summer is a perfect time for you to further develop your talents. Attending an athletic camp, playing in orchestras or bands, performing in a summer stock, creating new pieces for your art portfolio, working in a research lab and entering competitions, or publishing your written work, are just some of the things that you can do over the summer.
- Get involved in community service. When you list your community service on your activity sheet, you also list the hours per week, and the weeks per year that you spend doing this work. While the time spent is important, what you’ve actually accomplished is of much greater significance. While working at a day care center 12 hours a week is certainly commendable, it’s of greater significance if you actually started a program at that day care center. It’s when you have taken community service to a new level that you demonstrate leadership, a huge plus factor in college admissions.
- Get a job. On the Common Application students are asked to list their extracurricular activities in one section and then in another list their work experiences. If you have real work experience you demonstrate to college admissions counselors that you cannot only assume responsibility, but that you are also mature, trustworthy and dependable. Although it’s great to work at a job that relates to your interests, it’s not all that necessary. College admissions counselors understand that while you may enjoy all aspects of engineering, a summer job on the local zoning board would most likely not be offered to a 17 year old, but working in a pizza store or life guarding at a local pool would be respectable.
- Read great books. On some college applications there is a space to include books that you’ve read in the past year that were not required for a particular class. Reading will not only improve your vocabulary, but studies have shown that there’s a high correlation between students who are avid readers and high critical reading scores. All too often high school students don’t have the time for independent reading during the school year, so the summer is a perfect time to catch up on great reads. This is also another activity that you can do at the beach.
So think about what it is that you enjoy the most and then do something where you can further enhance your interests, talents, and skills. A productive summer experience can help you to discover something new about yourself and the world around you, it can be fun and exciting, and it just might help you to gain acceptance to the college of your choice.