The college admissions process is more competitive now than ever before. Summer presents a truly unique opportunity to do something compelling that will differentiate them in the college process. Here is a summer activities roadmap for high school students.
Summer Activities Roadmap from Grade 9 through 12
As we all know there are 5 components for getting into a good US college – Academics, Standardized Test Scores, Extra-Curricular Activities, Letters of Recommendation (LOR’s), and Essays. With most colleges going test-optional it basically comes down to Academics and Extra-Curricular Activities.
LOR’s and essays are based on the 1st two so one should really focus on good grades and activities. If everyone were to get good grades or an A+ or even 99.999 % in their exams how does one application differ from the other?
To stand out in the pool of thousands of students, it must be what you do outside of your classroom, which is unique to you only and helps shape you into the person you become.
Colleges want to know what you are doing outside your classroom and your commitment to how you spend your summer break. They want to know what you have been doing in your high school years so start as early as grade 9th and do not wait till 11th grade to start thinking about colleges and summer planning. What you do during your summer break can really help you stand out in the college application pool.
Summertime is the best time to explore one’s interests and passions as one does not have to worry about school, homework, and exams.
Congratulations on completing your middle school and entering high school. The next 4 years are going to be a stepping stone for your future so make sure you plan well. If you have a hobby or an interest pursue it. Enroll yourself in an activity-based summer camp for sports, arts, crafts, or coding, or whatever that you like. Find a local place to volunteer for a nonprofit. If you love animals volunteer at an animal shelter.
If you are good with numbers, teach maths to the not-so-privileged kids. Have an idea? Work on it and be an entrepreneur. If you enjoy writing, start your own blog, or write articles for your local magazine. If you are inclined towards Computer Science learn a language like Python or Java and make a game or a useful app.
Typically in Grade 9 one does not know the major they want to study or what they want to do in life, so now is a good time to start exploring different interests by either taking some online classes, volunteer work, travel, blogs, etc. Try something productive and creative, preferably in your area of interest.
By now you must have some idea about your interests and hobbies. Continue working on them and be involved with your school through clubs, MUN or TedX Talks, and community by volunteering your time and talent. Enroll yourself in online educational platforms like Coursera, Khan Academy, Udemy, etc., and take a few courses which might help you in your related field.
Take online summer classes directly from US colleges by registering on their website. This is a good time to show demonstrated intent. Let’s say for example you want to study at UC Santa Barbara, taking an online summer class there shows your interest in that college and looks good on your application.
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Find an internship in your related field. If you want to study medicine enroll in a premed program as it will help during the application process. You can also job-shadow someone. If you want to be a doctor spend a week or two shadowing a doctor to see what it takes to be one.
Rising Junior Year
Continue the same path of your field and show leadership in programs you have registered for. Enroll yourself in a summer program in a college of your choice if you could not do so last year.
Do a research paper on your favorite topic and connect with a college professor for guidance. It is okay to send an email to a professor or ask your parents if they know someone to see if you can work with them in person or online. Continue doing an internship in your related field. Spend your summer following your passion.
This is the final summer before college applications begin so make every minute count. Continue and build upon your current community service projects throughout the summer. An internship, job, or writing blogs and articles on topics close to your heart can help too.
Also, by now your college list and resume should be ready and if not make sure you get it done as the next 4-6 months are going to be very hectic with school, exams, college applications, and essays. If you have some spare time, start working on the college essays. Make sure you demonstrate leadership, commitment, and passion in whatever you do. Also, keep in mind it’s not what you do but what you learn from it that matters and if you impacted anyone’s life in a small or big way, it really, really counts.
To sum it up make sure you have displayed leadership skills, or entrepreneurship and done some research projects or worked as an intern in a startup or a company, and volunteered your time to your community in a constructive way.
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Select 1-3 activities and dedicate your time and energy to them. While filling up the Common app, it asks the students to list the number of years they spent participating in a particular activity and the hours and week in a year. Colleges look for quality over quantity so make sure you are consistent with your activity and not jumping from painting to soccer to coding to cooking.
Plan your 4 years of high school summer and use your time constructively. It will not only help in getting into your choice of college but also build your personality and boost your confidence.
Featured Image Source: The Princeton Review