The summer is traditionally a time to unwind and disconnect from the hectic schedule of the school year. It can also be a time to explore a new interest or pursue a passion. Students may be unsure of what they should be doing during the summer months and which activities are of the most value to colleges. The good news is, from a college admission perspective, there is no wrong activity. As long as the student is engaged in something, whether it's staying home to babysit siblings, taking a class (non-academic is fine!), traveling, working a job or an internship, it can all be of value.
Oftentimes I am asked if the courses offered through pre-college programs will help give a leg-up on the path to admission. The truth is that while those programs can be a valuable learning experience, they are not necessarily a path to admission. Those summer programs have no bearing on whether a student will be admitted to the host college. However, with all the options available it can be difficult to choose. Adding to that is the thought that the time between freshman and sophomore year might look different than the summer between junior and senior year. As you sort through the potential plans here are some things to consider:
Rising Sophomore Summer: Explore! Try different things, follow your interests to find out what resonates with you. Some ideas: go to camp, do things with your family, attend a summer enrichment program, volunteer or get a job if it sounds interesting.
Rising Juniors Summer: Delve into what interests you, get curious, dig down a level. Is there a volunteer opportunity, internship, job or class that relates to your interests?
Rising Senior Summer: Continue to do something meaningful with your interest. Perhaps it's continuing your job or internship from last summer, perhaps it's engaging with another aspect of your interest through research or volunteering. Just remember, leave time this summer to start brainstorming and outlining your admission essays!
To further help with the process, we have compiled alist of summer opportunities. It is organized by areas of interest and is a great place to start. Some of them have an application process so be sure to look through the information for important deadlines. In the end, the most important factor in determining how to spend the summer is to remember what gets you excited and that this is an opportunity to try something new or continue to do something you love. Both are great!