School's Out For The Summer! Now What?

Even though we may still be dealing with ugly winter weather, summer’s actually right around the corner! A common question that I get from parents is, “What should my high schooler be doing this summer to prepare for college applications?”  While my exact answer depends on the student’s specific situation, there are a few general rules to keep in mind:

  1. Plan ahead. Does your child know what he/she wants to major in? If so, make sure that their current extracurricular resume reflects that interest. For example, a student who plans to major in engineering may want to participate in an engineering camp or robotics competition. A future pre-med or business major may want to explore pre-college programs that offer courses in those subjects. This will show admission counselors that the student is passionate about an intended field of study and has dedicated free time to learning more about the subject.  It also gives students a chance to evaluate whether or not a specific field is a good fit for them.

  2. Think in layers. If your child does have a passion, brainstorm different ways they can expand their interest to create a clear theme and strengthen their application. Let’s say a student is already a member of the high school track team and plans to continue competing in college. Their summer could be spent volunteering to help coach younger athletes or raising money for a charity by running a 5k. Take an existing passion to a higher level!

  3. Explore. Most teenagers do not have a clear idea what they want to major in - summer break is a great opportunity for students to begin figuring out what where their interests may lie! This can be accomplished through traveling, job shadowing, interning, volunteering, or by simply taking the time to research a few different industries.

  4. Make some money. Summer break is a wonderful time for students who are busy during the school year to gain work experience. The job could be related to a student’s passion (ex. a future theater major working at a theater camp) or completely unrelated (ex. a future biology major working at an ice cream shop).  Admission counselors tend to appreciate the initiative necessary to obtain summer employment and know that jobs may lead to improved work ethic, teamwork skills, and independence.

  5. Have fun!  Summer is the time for pool parties, BBQs, and relaxing.  Don’t forget to take some time to decompress from the school year!