It’s no secret that colleges look favorably upon students who are “well rounded,” that is, students who receive A’s and B’s in the most challenging courses their high schools have to offer and who are extensively involved in extra-curricular activities offered at the high school as well as active in their community. Part time employment and internships are also regarded favorably by colleges. This process needs to begin freshman year and continue throughout all four years of high school. However, many jobs require their part time employees to be at least sixteen years of age. Whether sixteen or not, here are some suggestions for all students to consider during the summer not only to enhance their college applications, but also for their own personal development:
• Enroll in an enrichment course offered either at the high school or college level. This would be especially important for anyone who is not enrolled in their high school’s most challenging courses, such as advanced placement. If for example, you have been taking college prep courses, consider taking an honors course over the summer. Some colleges allow high school students to take college courses over the summer. This will show colleges you later apply to your willingness and ability to take challenging courses. Before enrolling in any course, check with your high school guidance counselor, to see how your schedule for the next school year will be impacted.
Maybe you would like to learn in a different environment. If so you may want to:
• Enroll in a course(s) at a museum or outdoors to learn about science, conservation, and living things. Science and art museums as well as the National Audubon Society, wildlife and gardening sanctuaries offer opportunities to learn and volunteer to protect and conserve the environment and all living things.
• Enroll in a sports, performing arts or visual arts summer program. This can help improve your skills in these areas, thereby increasing your likelihood of college acceptance, particularly if these are areas you may participate in while at college.
• Enroll in leadership training programs. Colleges like to have leaders enroll in their institution. Becoming a leader is a way for you to stand out from the crowd. Leadership programs can also help you learn how to make a difference in your high school. One leadership training program offered over the summer is the Student Leadership Training Program or STLP. http://www.sltp.info/index.html. which is held at Nichols College in Dudley, MA. Another possibility is to apply to the Governor’s Statewide Youth Council www.mass.gov/governor/youthcouncil. which advises the state government on issues pertaining to adolescents and young adults. These are just two of many programs and other possibilities exist through organizations such as 4-H Clubs, Scouting, etc.
• Participate in community service activities. These can be through your town, state, or religious institution. The summer months are when many charities sponsor walks as fund raisers for their organizations to battle hunger, cancer, mental illness, and many other worthwhile causes. You can also check with your town or chamber of commerce for activities that are looking for volunteers for the events they sponsor.
• Volunteer to help underprivileged families. Organizations like Habitat For Humanity work together with communities to build homes for homeless people in various parts of the country and the world. UNICEF and The Red Cross help families around the world, who lack food, housing, clothing, schooling, and medical care. Organizing and/or participating in various fundraisers such as car washes show your concern for others and demonstrate your desire to make a difference.
• Check with your parents, family members and neighbors for opportunities to “shadow” in their places of employment. Sometimes by shadowing or watching someone in their place of employment, you can get a better idea of what it would be like to work in that career and/or place of employment.
• Check with your parents, family members, neighbors, for opportunities to mow lawns, babysit, or do other odd jobs around the house. These are opportunities that may be available to younger high school students.
• Traveling this summer? Be certain to write about what you learned from your travels. It can be about the people you meet, their history and culture, the sites you saw. It could be the basis for your college essay.
• Do you know how to use all the applications on a SMART phone or computer? There are adults who, after purchasing televisions, computers, SMART phones, or other gadgets involving high technology, do not know how to operate many of the functions these devices have to offer. Perhaps you can start a business to assist them.
• Do you get good grades in school? Become a tutor. Perhaps you can tutor other students your age or younger ones who struggle in some school subjects and who could benefit from your assistance. Check with your school or ask people you know how to look into this.
These are only a few on an endless list of possible activities that exist for you to pursue. Whether you choose to participate in these or similar ones, activities such as these will enable you to learn more about the world around you and make you a more “well rounded” person. This is exactly what colleges are looking for.
As a relatively new member of the Crossroads Team located in Framingham, MA, I would love to use my vast college counseling background to assist students and parents with any aspect of the college admissions process.