Last week I visited five cities in the Northeast with colleagues from four other institutions. On this trip we presented information on our universities and ended each evening program with a mini-college fair where we answered questions and shared information. One question I was repeatedly asked provided the inspiration for this blog post. Asked in a variety of ways, students essentially wanted to know what they should do over the summer. As with so many other questions in admissions, the answer is “it depends” and there really is no right or wrong thing to do. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started with your summer planning:
- Work. Ultimately, this is what college is preparing you for, to enter the work force. Now is a great time to get a head start and learn life skills like punctuality, responsibility, courtesy, and money management. It is also possible to explore a career path that you would like to consider in the future. Interested in child development? Become a camp counselor. Want to learn more about business? Work in a retail store. Preparing for a career in hospitality management? Check out a local restaurant, nearby hotel or resort. Your summer job doesn’t have to be glamorous to be character building!
- Volunteer. Volunteering is another great way to spend your summer. Your school will often be familiar with opportunities for teenagers in your community, but you can also seek out other opportunities related to your interests. Hospitals, health clinics, humane societies, soup kitchens, summer camps, museums, nonprofit agencies, and parks are some of the many places that welcome student assistance.
- Summer programs. Summer programs for high school students are offered by many colleges and universities across the country. While these programs do not necessarily give you a competitive edge in the admission selection process for that institution, they will give you a good idea of what life is like on a college campus and what to expect in the college classroom. Keep in mind that you can often learn just as much about college by taking a class at your local community college (and it will likely cost a lot less, too!).
- Read. Don’t underestimate the value of your local library. Reading keeps your brain synapses firing over the summer. Escape into a classic, learn about a notable figure, research a topic that interests you, or develop a new skill. You never know, you can learn new vocabulary and skills that help you with the critical reading portion of the SAT or even come up with a brilliant idea for your college essays.
Summer is also a great time to start visiting college campuses (if you haven’t already begun doing so), but that’s a topic for another blog. Summer is truly a time to relax, enjoy the weather and outdoors, and spend quality time with your friends and family. We understand how stressful life can be during the school year and whatever you choose to do this summer, make sure to enjoy yourself, be yourself, and have fun! If you choose activities that are meaningful to you, you’ll get more out of those experiences. If it’s important to you, it’ll be important to us. Happy summer!