Summer break is just around the corner — do you have plans yet?
Some students look forward to months of fun in the sun, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with a little relaxation. But for students who want to improve their chances of getting into a dream college, summer is also a chance to bolster resumes and college applications.
Although a lot of selective summer programs require months of advanced planning, it isn’t too late to find ways to use summer break wisely.
Summer School: No one wants to spend summer in a classroom, but one great way to show colleges that you’re committed to education is to enroll in summer classes. Some high schools will allow you to take required classes over the summer to get a head start on the school year, but you should also consider taking classes at a local community college. Many small, local colleges will allow you to take intro courses before you graduate from high school. This can be an excellent chance to get a feel for what college classes are like while earning college credits.
Volunteering: You don’t have to go build houses in a developing nation to perform worthwhile service. Starting — and sticking with! — a volunteer project close to home is just as valuable. Colleges seek students who are devoted members of their communities, so community service (especially when it isn’t a school requirement) can certainly improve your college applications. Better yet, consider organizing a new volunteer project and recruiting some friends — this not only shows a dedication to community service, but also demonstrates leadership and initiative.
Summer Jobs: A lot of students worry that summer jobs aren’t valued by colleges, but that’s not really true. Holding a summer job shows maturity and responsibility, traits that colleges certainly look for in an applicant.
Internships: Highly selective internships can be almost impossible to get as a high school student, but there are still plenty of opportunities out there. Want to become a doctor? Contact local doctor’s offices to find out if you might be able to shadow a doctor during the summer. Want to become a lawyer? Contact local law offices and offer yourself as a free intern. Sure, you’ll probably spend a lot of time fetching coffee, but you’ll still gain valuable insight into your potential career.
Test Prep: Planning on taking the SAT, PSAT, or ACT? Take advantage of the time out of school to get a jump start on test prep. You can get some prep books and study on your own, or you might consider enrolling in a summer program. For example, C2 Education offers intensive SAT prep during the summer. AP classes are another option. If you’re taking AP classes next year, you can use the summer to get ahead on the material. If you’re thinking about taking an AP exam without enrolling in the actual class, summer is a great time to start self-studying for the exam.
Application Essays: If you’re a rising senior, this summer is your best chance to start those college application essays. A really great application essay can take months to plan, write, revise, and perfect — and if you need to write more than one application essay, your time is even more precious. Don’t miss the chance to focus on your essays without the added stress of school.