Summer Time = College Planning + College Preparation
YES…so you think this is the time to just relax, have fun, etc. Well, you are wrong, if you are a rising junior or senior in high school. I am not saying you can’t have a week here or there for some fun, but this is a time that is short, and if you want to stay ahead of the competitive curve for colleges, you need to be proactive in getting great additions to your student resume of activities. If you do not have a resume going, remember, we have a FREE template. All you need to do to get it is: Contact US! Ask for FREE TEMPLATE. It will be sent out to you immediately. This is a formal document that can be either uploaded to an application, sent in the mail, printed out and handed to Alumni during a college fair or during an interview. It is an important detail that is beginning to carry more and more weight with colleges. So do not rely on the Naviance™ activity sheet, this is not a formal resume, formatted and suitable for the above mentioned. The Naviance™ sheet is a nice way to keep organized and especially useful for your college guidance, but not the formal document you want to share with an Admission office.
So what will you, the earnest forward thinking, college planning student be doing this summer to add to this resume? Well let’s discuss the options. After each, I will outline if this is best to be done as rising Junior or Senior.
1) A college course or seminar at an actual College or University.
Ideally, this is a program that is designed for high school students to take advantage of learning at a college, while also accumulating credits, and experience college life (or really a facsimile of college life). Some programs, you have to apply for NOW!! Programs abroad, such as at St. Andrew’s, you have to apply early spring. The spaces are limited.
Things to look for-1) the program is sponsored by the actual University or College (do not buy into some corporation’s “leadership” program that you pay a lot of money. It is not at all by the college, but some company that simply rented space. It leads to no college credit and doesn’t get added to a resume) 2) ideally the program offers some college credit earned for attending (not all offer such as Georgetown’s and Davidson’s) 3) some offer two courses over 6 weeks in addition to a comprehensive summer experience such as the one offered by Columbia University.
Ideally these are done during rising junior year. These can be expensive and for very few of these programs are there any financial aid or scholarship funds made available. So if you cannot afford these…try to see if you can actually take a Community College course locally. College Level courses are impressive, regardless of where you take them. Taking two courses in a local Community college during the summer is impressive. Pick two that you feel will give you a leg up…Writing might help you down the road with your college essay!
2) WORK….actual Paid Work.
Having a summer job with some responsibility that exposes you to something different is always impressive on a resume. Try to apply for something interesting and outside your normal sphere….babysitting, although important, is not so far from your actual high school life. Working in an office as a gopher, working as a receptionist, for a garden or lawn company, participating as a retail worker in a store, or any other contribution to employers, for which you are paid. Getting exposure to the accountability and responsibility of working impresses any college. Some people have serious full-time jobs during the summer for the entire 11-12 week time frame, whereas others are camp counselors for 6 weeks. The duration isn’t as important as the contribution made.
So if you have the chance to work, do! Many summer jobs are gone if you want until June. Get out there and ask NOW! Many places have actual job applications or applications for employment, all fast food outlets do. So go this weekend and fill out several applications for employment. Get those balls rolling-this doesn’t matter if it is rising junior or senior year…both are good times for paid employment.
3) Volunteer! Yes, the other work.
If you cannot find work for which you get paid, trust me there are many opportunities for you to contribute through volunteering. Every city, town, and village paper has a section for volunteers needed. You can even go to your local library information desk, as most also know of places seeking volunteers. Many large scale non-profit organizations do not have drop-in opportunities but host drive, activities, and have local chapters where you might be directed to sign up. Keep track of your hours. Email the directors to get confirmation. This needs to start taking place in your freshman year of high school, if you want to apply and be considered for National Honor Society. You need only be a community service volunteer.
Some high schools have a log in the Guidance Office to keep track of your Community Service hours for National Honor Society. Others require you to keep track and have the documentation to support that you have logged hours each year in high school. This is important. Keep giving back to communities. There is never a shortage of need.
4) Camps to gain skills
…another popular, but can be expensive option is to attend a Camp, in which you gain skills. Music, Robotics, Cooking, Math, Science, Computer languages, Coding, etc. Go to a camp that requires you to have skills or learn new ones. These camps offer certificates of achievement at the end, for which you are tested. You receive acknowledgement of the level you have obtained. If you are already skilled at something but need to gain some kind of advanced training, this is the time to do it. Nothing speaks willingness to challenge that working to improve an extracurricular skill. One of my very favorite is an exploration summer leadership program called Where There Be Dragons….I have had students who had seriously academic challenges in their lives come alive, gain maturity, and become responsible through this program.
5) Hiking the Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trail.
Yes, this rigorous outdoor challenge is impressive. It takes a certain level of maturity to attempt these long treks through nature. It is also a statement of perseverance, determination, and character. Of course, you truly must be an experienced camper and have skills about nature before attempting anything of this sort, but for those who have that level of outdoor acumen, this is a rather adventurous add to a resume. The time required to entire trails is usually beyond the vacation months, but even a leg is impressive.
6) Outward Bound or NOLS
are courses for those who are willing to put themselves through some fairly intense programs to learn to rely on self, nature, and sometimes society. These are accredited, well-known, and much admired. There are different levels, locations, and times. People can choose three week, two months, ten days, etc. Many who complete these programs swear they gained self-assurance they never knew they missed. These are not free, but sometimes there are scholarships with these types of programs for certain financial need-based people. Check into these if you have a yearning for an adventure that will change your life.
7) Travel that includes Community Service to third world countries.
These are usually organized through non-profit or Church groups. Ideal for both the exposure to different cultures, but also the gaining of what society gets from support. You can search under “Missionary” programs if you have no particular religious affiliation. I strongly urge all who choose to participate to start of social media campaign to both photo-document and offer a place for donations to the specific location and organization you are helping. Direct donations often go far greater than through agencies.
8) SAT or ACT preparation.
This is mostly for Rising Juniors, but could also be suggested for Rising Seniors who are shy of what they need for the schools of their choice. The summer is the perfect time to prepare for these tests. Rising juniors can either pack an entire course in, or do some, and pick up more in the fall. For Rising Seniors, I suggest to pack in an intense program starting in August. I suggest all Rising Seniors to dedicate August to College. College Applications come out on the 1st, start working on those, SAT/ACT prep needs to happen, Resumes need to be completed and formalized. Supplement essays need to be started. Etc.
9) College Personal Statement…
this is Only for Rising Seniors. The Essay prompts are out usually by June. Start your Personal Statement. I strongly urge that you have the first draft into a counselor before August 1st. Count on AT LEAST 3 drafts!!! Understand this is something that each party who helps needs a bit of time….so three to four months before deadline is when the first draft really needs to leave your desktop and in someone else’s inbox! NO KIDDING!!!!!
10) College Visits…
no time like the summer time to visit potential colleges. There are many who pooh-pooh visits during the summer. I am 100% for them! Summer is great to see the campus, go to the local restaurants, walk around, get a feel, and ask serious questions. (there is another blog coming up next about what questions to ask) Summer is the greatest time to include or exclude a school….after the initial visit, if this is still on your list, you can always go back after getting accepted or attend a senior weekend, as most colleges have such offerings for students in senior fall to visit. There are activities specific to you, and you get to see or spend the night in the dorms, attend social activities, and even for some, go to a class.
So there are 10 great ideas for the summer to help you gain something towards your college process. You can contact us for guidance as to how to fit in the best plan for you considering your wants and needs. You can also book a one-time counseling session to see how to fit in what you are planning into a resume…..and DON’T Forget, CONTACT US for that FREE Resume template!
Get cracking on your summer plan!