In the December issue we offered ideas for summer activities to inform students of opportunities with early deadlines such as competitive jobs or research programs. We offer additional ideas at the end of this article. As you plan, take a step back and reflect on your summer goals by thinking about these questions.
What is the purpose of my summer?
The answer will vary from student to student, but everyone should use a part of the summer to recharge and relax after a demanding school year. However, most of the summer should be spent in productive activity such as working, engaging in experiences in line with your interests or exploring new activities. Many students will work to earn money either because they need the income, or have set a savings goal or simply come from a family that believes work experience is an important value. Unless a student has to participate in summer school for remedial or makeup work, we advise students to use summer for a new kind of engagement. One summer goal for everyone should be to keep reading as there is no better way to prepare for college and standardized tests.
Would I be wise to choose my summer activity based on my college aspirations?
For the vast majority of students, it doesn’t matter what they choose. However, there are two types of students where summer goal choice may matter. The first are juniors with very few extracurricular activities who would benefit from meaningful activity that might open them up to new opportunities and help them become more engaged with the world. An added bonus is that the activity will enhance their presentation to colleges while giving them something concrete to write about in their supplemental essays and discuss in interviews. A wide range of activities will fit here.
The second are the students with top grades and test scores in rigorous courses who are seeking admission to the elite tier of universities and liberal arts colleges. These students can look alike (this is why you hear all those stories about Johnny with the perfect SATs and straight A’s who didn’t get into Dream College). An interesting summer activity in line with their interests such as summer science research, an internship, job or service initiative that builds on prior experience, or taking a passion such as music to the next level may help distinguish them from the pack. Keep in mind that summers
build on one another so if a student does something that excites them after sophomore year, they can take this interest to the next level the following summer. Never choose an activity that doesn’t interest you because you think it will impress a college. You will be bored and it will defeat the purpose!
What is the family budget? When we discuss experiences we do not mean that students should spend thousands of dollars to visit another country to learn a language or do service. While students do such experiences and enjoy them, they do not necessarily impress college admissions officers. Students should always pursue activities in line with their interests and bear in mind what their family can afford or wants to spend. Many opportunities exist in students’ own communities.
Here are some opportunities to explore, some offered at no cost to you:
City School Summer Leadership Program
Volunteer with Tenacity Summer Tennis and Reading Program
Apply for a summer writing fellowship at Grub Street
Apply to the Food Project Seed Crew (note deadline)
Explore the great outdoors through the National Outdoor Leadership School
Learn about music business or music production at Berklee
Summerfuel Programs are popular. Here are their newest programs:
Social Entrepreneurship at Georgetown University
Get a taste of college in our nation’s capital and develop a social action plan. Lead and innovate and meet entrepreneurs with a social conscience
Spanish and International Business in Barcelona, Spain
An exclusive partnership with the ESADE business school in Barcelona that combines Spanish language study and international business to prepare the global leaders of tomorrow.
This is just a sampling so let us know your interests and we can help identify a meaningful summer opportunity for you.