Peter Van Buskirk of “US News & World Report” put out a great post yesterday on what students should and shouldn’t do when school’s out for summer. Check out his post here: Summer Do’s and Don’ts for College Applicants. In our newsletter on high school summers and college admissions as well as our newsletter on lazy days of summer and college applicants, we urge students to avoid waking up late, to stay away from the beach, and to avoid watching TV and playing video games. How students spend their summers are telling to admissions counselors. Summer pursuits paint a picture that you just can’t grasp as well during the school year.
Many students and parents think their child should attend a fancy summer program at a university — especially at the university they wish to attend. This isn’t necessary, the rationale behind the summer activity is blatantly obvious, and it rarely sets a candidate apart from other applicants. In the end, distinguishing yourself from other candidates will be key to gaining admission to the college of your choice.
Another popular choice is traveling abroad or doing an expensive service project in a foreign country. This isn’t necessarily the best idea either unless this service project really is the driving force of your life. What does travel in many foreign countries translate to in the eyes of college admissions counselors? Money. It means you can afford to travel. It means you’re rich, maybe even entitled. People generally aren’t inclined to go to bat as strongly for entitled people as they are for people who they think are more deserving of their support. It’s a matter of simple psychology.
We’ll be exploring in future posts this month what you should be doing this summer to set yourself apart from the pack but to give you a hint, follow your passions (unless your passion is watching “Gossip Girl” reruns on The CW). Pursue the activity you do during the school year. If you love science research, do research! If you’re trying to get recruited to play squash, work on that squash game. If you are worried that getting a job will look badly to college admissions counselors, you’re wrong. Get a job. Check back soon for more ideas on what you can do during your summer break.