When it comes to summer, Collegewise is of the mindset that relaxation should still be part of the equation. But we also know the pressure to pick the "right" summer activities exists.
So, what counts? Well, truly anything could count. We’ve met students who taught themselves Esperanto or coached a second-grade robotics team. Neither summer extracurricular activity is inherently better than the other, but each reflects a student’s individual interests. That’s the most important part of the equation is for students to find something that they’re excited to do, learn, or experience—instead of something they think they should be doing—and their summer will be both enriching and enjoyable.
For those students looking for specific ideas to make their summer count, however, here are some ways to become a better applicant: note the order.
Take a Summer Course
Do you need to remediate that English class from freshman year? Will taking a math class allow you or your child to take Calculus during the school year or meet prerequisites for a physics class? If so, high schoolers should consider taking a summer course through school, online, or at a local community college. If you don’t have strategic needs like these, consider what areas you’d like to discover or explore in-depth. Whether it’s learning how to program through Khan Academy, taking a community college creative writing course, or learning about the impact of pirates on global empires through a summer program, colleges love students who pursue their academic passions—no matter what they are.
Summer Internships or Research
If your student can’t wait to learn more about their planned career path, it is a great time to explore summer internship placements. Students can start by reaching out to their personal network or professionals within their chosen field and explore potential shadowing or mentoring opportunities. What about students with no deep personal network or experience limitations? This is a great opportunity to explore their own start-ups or engage in volunteering opportunities in their local community.
For students interested in studying STEM, summer is an excellent time to dive into a research opportunity. At Collegewise, we fill our summer with opportunities for students to build foundational skills, explore research projects, or level up their academics with personalized tutoring.
Build a Portfolio
For students whose interests gravitate toward the arts or other forms of creation such as engineering, using the summer to throw themselves into a project is a great way to build a college portfolio. Starting in the summer gives students a head start in building their future portfolios to add to their college applications.
If you’re not sure what you want to study, or just know that you want a more relaxed or simply non-academic summer, there are plenty of options:
Explore Summer Jobs for Students
Bagging groceries or mowing a neighbor’s lawns all summer doesn’t sound glamorous. A summer job is a great way for teens to learn an entirely new skill-set. High schoolers will work with adults, function in a professional environment, earn money, and gain new experiences that show colleges they're responsible and college-ready.
Explore New Passions
Whether your student has no idea what their interests are or they have too many to count, summer is the perfect time to learn something new. Hobbies, whether artistic, athletic, or eclectic, can be hard to maintain or start up during the school year. But during the summer, students can commit themselves to finally learning more than two chords on their guitar, picking up Photoshop, or trying out Geocaching. Colleges don’t care if hobbies relate to academic interests—or if they’re academic at all—they just want to see that students are committing to things that interest them!
Whether a student decides to spend their summer taking an economics class, working retail, or something completely different from anything on this list, remember that the summer activities look different to every student. Students should take stock of what they want to do or accomplish and work their way back to having a summer that colleges - and more importantly - they, will love.
For families looking to get a head start on their college applications and the fall semester, our fully customizable programs allow students to receive support with every component of their application, including academics, essays, extracurriculars, and more! To learn more about our services and how your family can get matched with an expert college counselor, schedule a chat with one of our program advisors below!
Want to learn more about summer planning? Check out our summer guide!
About Us: With more than 23 of experience, Collegewise counselors and tutors are at the forefront of the ever-evolving admissions landscape. Our work has always centered on you: the student. And just like we’ve always done, we look for ways for you to be your best self - whether it’s in the classroom, in your applications, or in the right-fit college environment. Our range of tools include counseling, test prep, academic tutoring, and essay management, all with the support of our proprietary platform, leading to 4x higher than average admissions rates.