As school starts to wind down, nobody wants to think about starting new assignments or taking yet another test. Take it from me; as soon as daylight savings time ended, I began longing for languid summer days full of sleep and relaxation.
However, in reality, summer is more than just vacations and sunny days; every summer during high school is an important time to work on your college application. While participating in extracurriculars and building an impressive academic transcript are crucial for boosting your application competitive colleges, it is summer activities that can truly set you apart from other top students.
Get an Internship
If you are interested in a specific career field, getting an internship is the perfect way to gain invaluable firsthand exposure to the everyday tasks that people within that field do. Getting an internship allows you to work alongside professionals, teaching you lessons beyond what a classroom setting can provide. Internships are also a great way to demonstrate your interest in a specific major to colleges, showing them that you are willing to dedicate your free time to enhancing your experience in a particular career field. As an added benefit, some companies pay their interns. Who doesn’t like getting paid for doing what they love?
While volunteering does not offer the same financial incentives as some internships, it can be more personally fulfilling than making money. Through volunteering, you can not only demonstrate your commitment to your community, but you can also make new friends and make a positive difference. To have the best experience volunteering, find work that genuinely reflects your interests rather than work that you believe would impress colleges; this way, volunteering would not feel like an obligation.
Research and Visit Colleges
As intimidating as diving into your college admissions process can be, beginning your search for colleges early is not only relieving, but also exciting. As cliche as it sounds, it is never too early to start thinking about college, even if you’ve only just finished your freshman year. Without schoolwork to worry about, summer is the ideal time to explore your college options both online and in-person. Even if you think you have a solid idea of the kinds of schools you would like to apply to, you may consider new options by visiting colleges in-person that you wouldn’t have otherwise, thus broadening your perspective so you can better understand which types of schools are the best fit for you.
Get a Head Start on College Applications
If you are a rising senior, there is no better time to get a head start on college applications. While it is easy to justify binge-watching Netflix over writing college essays by telling yourself that you will write them when you are more motivated in September, you have less time than you think. Once school starts, homework and classes will take up a significant amount of your time and energy, making it more difficult to write essays for all the schools on your application list. Even if some schools do not release their individualized prompts until late summer or the start of the new school year, completing your Common Application essays will allow you more time to focus on the supplemental essays later on and avoid sloppy, hastily-done essays. Similarly, complete your financial aid forms when they are released in August to alleviate anxiety over getting the proper documents together the day before an application is due.
Follow your passions
Many people separate college preparation and summer relaxation into two entirely different categories, but when done right, this doesn’t have to be the case. Some parts of college preparation, such as taking the SAT, may be stress-inducing, but for the most part, the time you spend getting ready for college should be exciting and full of possibilities. One of the most important things to remember is that your summer activities should reflect you. If you utilize your free time to identify and follow your passions, whether they include playing a sport, making art, or learning about new cultures, you will not only be in a good position to apply to colleges, but will also have fun during your summer.