The inside scoop on making the most of your summer

High School Summer

By Shannon Duff, Collegiate Compass, Llc
06/02/2015
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Don't just hang out and watch TV. You deserve some down time, but make a summer plan! Here are 10 tips for making the most of your summer.

10. Do what you love

Make a summer plan that enables you to dig deeper into a subject or activity in which you’re interested. Your summer plan should be based on doing things you enjoy! For example, you want to do some volunteer work, but your mom's suggestion of volunteering at the local nursing home isn't so exciting. But, you love lacrosse. So check to see if there is a lacrosse team or camp for younger kids nearby that could use an extra coach!

9. Brainstorm ideas

Brainstorm ideas, apply/register, and then finalize your plan! Some options: sports camps, tournaments, classes/programs for high school students at colleges, community service near home or a community service trip, a language program abroad, jobs, internships. You can focus on one thing or combine several things.

8. Visit colleges

While it's nice to be able to visit colleges during the school year, the reality of busy families’ schedules means that you'll probably need to do some visits over the summer. Start visiting schools casually after your sophomore year, and ramp it up during junior year. Planning ahead will help you avoid cramming them all into one trip. Plus, seeing a school you really like can inspire you to work harder in your classes!

7. Get a summer job or internship

You should have a job or internship for at least some part of one summer in high school — this will be impressive to college admissions officers as it shows that you have handled the responsibility involved in having a job. It can be any job — working at the local ice cream shop (or a similar job), for instance, is something admissions officers love to see. This experience tells them that you 1) showed up, 2) have a work ethic, and 3) made some of your own money (unpaid internships count, too).

6. Be creative

Summer can be a great time to create! If you've thought about starting a new community service group, or a club of some sort, summer is the time to plan and get organized. Use your creativity, and inspiration — go for it!

5. Do a program on campus

Before senior year, we encourage students to do an academic program on a college campus in a subject that interests them. Ideally, in a major they are considering. It's usually a good idea from an admissions perspective to make a case for why you want to major in a particular subject, even if you're not sure, and attending a summer program helps you build your case.

4. Have fun!

Go get ice cream. Head to the pool. Have fun!

3. Broaden your horizons

If you have the chance to go abroad, or travel to a different part of the U.S. for a program, community service, or with your family, do it! Jot down some things you observed or noticed on your trip. This will come in handy later on, as you are writing college essays!

2. Get a head start on college applications

If you're going to be a senior in the fall, get started on your college applications and essays this summer! You'll be very glad that you did. The new common app is usually available July 1. Most colleges' supplements are available sometime in August.

1. Apply your summer experiences

Be sure to bring your summer experiences back to school and to your community with you in the fall! This may just mean bringing a broader perspective and appreciation for diversity back from a trip abroad, or could mean starting a club to support a community in Africa, for instance, that you visited on your summer program. Translate inspiration into action.

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