Summer Programs for High School Students
Planning a Productive Summer
When it comes to the college admissions process, it is imperative to show how you have developed your interests throughout your time in high school. College admissions committees want to see how you have made an impact in clubs and activities during the school year, but also during the summer. While it may be tempting to sit around all summer working on your tan, boards of admissions specifically look to see that you have remained productive during your time away from school. Summer presents many opportunities for students to further develop their interests and goals —travel to a foreign country, continue training in your favorite sport, make up a class or gain extra credits in summer school, start a business, get an internship, or join a community service organization.
Though summer may seem far away, the applications for many popular programs are due soon. Some of these applications can be as complex as a college application, requiring essays, letters of recommendation, and even test scores, so you will need to get started soon! Dr. Kat and the team of counselors at IvyWise, have come up with the following tips for spending your summer wisely.
The Longer, the Better
Look for programs that last at least four weeks, and ideally programs that span six to eight weeks. It is virtually impossible to learn anything of substance or to make an impact in three weeks or less. Plus, colleges will recognize your long-term commitments to the things you love.
Avoid Teen Tours
There are many programs that offer for you to tour a distant country, learn a little history, eat the local cuisine, and participate in a short-term service project. While this may sound like a great time, colleges will view this as a vacation, not an impactful experience.
If you want to spend time in a foreign country, you absolutely should! But, do so productively. For example, if you are interested in culinary arts and are studying Italian, DO pursue a cooking course in Italy, expand your language skills through a homestay, and teach a workshop on nutrition to grade school students, DON’T eat pizza and gelato in Rome for a month while touring the museums in English.
Tip: When researching international programs for high school students, be sure to check credentials. Look for programs that have been in operation for many years, have experienced, adult instructors, and explain in detail what their emergency action plan is, just in case!
Preview College Life
Most selective colleges and universities offer residential pre-college programs for high school students during the summer. These programs can be a great opportunity to see what it’s like to study your favorite subject under the guidance of a college professor. You’ll also get a taste of college life by living in a dorm room, eating in a dining hall, and hanging out on campus. Some programs even offer college credits. Make sure when choosing a course on campus that you research the professor who will be teaching it, the course materials, and the academic rigor of the class to make sure it’s a good fit for your interests and goals.
Get a Job
A summer job may help you confirm your career aspirations, discover new interests, or gain firsthand experience. It is not crucial for you to make a lot of money; it’s the experience that truly counts. A job shows commitment, maturity, and responsibility, and if you come from a privileged background, can keep you from appearing spoiled or lazy.
If you decide to use the summer to work, you can still pursue part-time jobs that help you explore your interests. For example, if you’re interested in working toward a law degree you may consider administrative work in a law or legal aid office. If you are working a retail or service job, ask your manager if you can help her with additional tasks that match up with your interests—like creating an advertisement if you’re interested in graphic design or scripting a commercial if you’re focused on film studies. If finding a job that aligns with your interests or talents proves to be a challenge, there’s always the option to start your own business!
Whether you spend your summer in a foreign country or in your own backyard starting a gardening business, remember to do your research, be creative, explore every opportunity you can, and make summers count!