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Planning for Summer in Winter

summer planning summer plans summer programs summer research Feb 24, 2024

Admissions officers want to see that students have spent some of their summer productively. As you explore options, remember to engage in something you are interested in or passionate about rather than choosing a program because you think it will look good on your college application.


Some colleges allow high school students to attend summer sessions, where they can study subjects that are not offered in high school, explore possible college majors, and earn transferable college credits.


Choosing a residential summer class housed at a university is a great way to experience life away from home. Living with a roommate and even doing one’s own laundry can help students feel more independent and self-confident. Many enrichment programs don’t offer college credit but do provide an opportunity for students to pursue their interests. Students who want to perfect their Spanish may want a homestay in Spain or Latin America. A budding engineer might enjoy a camp where they build robots.


For others, community service is the way to create a meaningful summer experience. The Student Conservation Association sends crews of six to eight students with two adult leaders to national parks, forests, and urban green spaces to hike trails, build shelters, fight invasive species, and protect wildlife habitats. Of course, you don’t have to travel across the country to be involved in community service. Many local organizations also offer the opportunity to stay involved throughout the school year.


Some students need or want to earn money over the summer. Having a job can help you learn how to work with people, prioritize tasks, and manage time. Earning a paycheck can also provide a wonderful
boost to self-esteem.


Summer jobs can also offer opportunities to explore career interests. If a student wants to be a veterinarian, a job at an animal hospital is an excellent way to see what’s involved in being a vet. Working as a camp counselor is great for students interested in teaching or psychology.


Some students create their own summer programs. A prospective science major might contact professors at local colleges doing interesting research and see if they could use some help in the lab over the summer. This can be a way for a student to check out if microbiology is really where she’s headed, and if things go well, ask for a recommendation letter. Internship spots fill early; contact prospective mentors now.


With so many options, students need to keep in mind that there’s not one “best” summer activity. If you find something you are excited about doing, you’re likely to experience the kind of personal growth that makes for interesting college applications.


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