summer activities to help with college applications

The Importance of Summer Activities In the College Application Process

Many factors contribute to your appeal as a potential incoming freshman at an Ivy League or other top-tier college. Some are difficult to manage while others are not.  These include your choice of summer activities during high school. How you spend your free time in the summer should reflect your passions— both scholastically and recreationally. When choosing activities, remember that they can improve your ability to be admitted to a top-tier college.

While your curricular and extracurricular activities are often restricted during the academic year, summer allows you an opportunity to pursue personal interests, engage in your community, and learn in less formal settings. Supplementing your academic performance and school-sponsored extracurricular activities with meaningful summertime involvement demonstrates to admissions officers that you are self-motivated and focused. Your target schools value socially aware individuals who will become engaged on campus and within the civic community at large.

A few worthwhile types of summer activities are described below.

  • Internships: Whether for a business, law firm, hospital, public agency, medical practice, or other organization, internships provide valuable exposure to your future field. They enable you to make the case to admissions officers that you understand your projected career path. Real-world experience as an intern, especially in a mentorship program, distinguishes and elevates you above other applicants in your field.
  • Volunteering: Colleges value applicants with a track record of community service because it indicates enthusiasm, dedication, and commitment that may prove to benefit the greater good of the school and its community. While in high school, summers present opportunities for volunteering that foster creativity. In fact, you may even consider launching your own organization to help a worthy cause, which will greatly enhance your image as an applicant by demonstrating leadership, initiative, and other positive qualities.
  • Academics: Taking advanced, college-level courses in elite universities will not guarantee admission to that school, or other equally prestigious institutions. However, it does demonstrate your passion for particular subjects, your ability to do college-level work and your desire to learn. So, for example, while taking neurobiology and genetics courses at Harvard and earning good grades in those classes won’t guarantee admission to the school, it will give admissions officers a glimpse into who you are, how academic you are and where your interests are focused. These attributes can make you a more desirable candidate to highly selective schools and, in most cases, you can earn transferable college credit. Likewise, taking non-credit bearing, but substantial courses offered to high school students by universities ranging from Columbia to Brown to Duke to Yale, can help define your academic profile.
  • Research: If you plan to pursue a major and career in science, participation in a research program displays a high level of commitment and will also improve your skills in that field. Some research programs are highly prestigious. For example, there are some highly selective biomedical research summer programs that take students who have previous lab experience and have demonstrated excellence in science. The professors at the research universities and institutes select students so that, in effect, the students they choose are “pre-vetted” as being exceptional young scientists. Admissions officers recognize these programs and they can definitely boost an applicant’s chance of being accepted to a top-tier school.
  • Online Presence:By creatinga meaningful presencefor yourself on the Internet, you can showcase your unique qualities and experience as well as your technical skills. This gives admissions officers a valuable perspective about you as a potential student. Be sure to use social media intelligently by setting up a LinkedIn profile to highlight honors, awards, sports, clubs, and activities. Since colleges may review social media to learn more about you, either scrub your Facebook and Twitter pages of potentially embarrassing items or take steps to fully secure your privacy. If you develop a full website, you may reserve your full name or a variation as a web domain and launch an eye-catching design complete with a blog. You can then post items that reflect your ideas and interests in a way that sheds a favorable light on you as an applicant.

Optimize your chances for educational success by receiving expert strategic guidance about summer activities from an IvySelect college consultant. We specialize in the highly competitive admissions processes of Ivy League and other top-tier colleges.