July 2, 2017 | Patrick
What summer activities should you do if you want to get into a top US college?
College applications can be mysterious and stressful things, especially for students who, for the first time in their lives, are suddenly faced with making major decisions about their futures. However, as with all tough tasks, preparation is key, and preparation for college can begin years in advance.
One crucial preparation in the years leading up to college applications is picking the right summer activities. What sorts of activities will give you the best chances of success? There are a few different possibilities that might appeal to you.
One possibility is to get some academic enrichment. Many universities and boarding schools run summer programs for high school and middle school students. Through these programs, you can take classes that may be more advanced than what you have at your own school. If you want to give yourself a boost in literature, math, or any other subject, summer school is a great option. Additionally — and this is a major attraction — a lot of these summer programs have you living on campus for several weeks, which gives you a taste of what residential college life will be like. College admissions officers will appreciate the fact that you have spent some time away from home and know what it is like to live on your own. For many students, it is a way to show serious commitment to going to college in the US.
A second summer activity option is to work on something you are really passionate about. Do you have an interest in community service? Do you like cultural outreach or environmentalism? Think about getting “hands on” with it and joining a volunteer project. There are countless organizations that lead outstanding programs all over greater China, Asia, and the world. Go and build a house for a needy family, clean a beach, or teach at a rural school. The choices are truly endless. Best of all, you can do all of these things while with an experienced, responsible, and insured group. Just be sure to pick an experience that will be meaningful and memorable to you. Good stories and vivid personal experiences are what outstanding college applications are made of.
Another summer activity option is to hone a talent. Maybe you play an instrument or a sport at a high standard. Maybe you are a painter, actor, or even a contortionist. There are summer camps and programs that cater to all of these talents. If you join one of them, you will meet some great teachers and coaches, as well as other young people who excel at the same things you do. By focusing on your talent for a summer, you can take your skills to a whole new level. Maybe you can prepare for a competition that you would not otherwise dare to join. Maybe you can get stronger and break new records. If you are lucky, you might even meet a mentor who can introduce you to college recruiters who want someone with exactly your talent.
A final summer activity option is to do something completely extraordinary and exotic. For this, you are limited only by your imagination. Travel to a far-flung country and get immersed in the culture. Climb a mountain or traverse a desert (safely, of course). Again, the most important thing is that it should be memorable and impactful to you. Everyone is looking to stand out in the pool of college applicants. If you have an exciting experience that fascinates both you and the person who reads your application, then you have truly had a great summer.
With some advanced planning and wise preparation, it is absolutely possible to enter the college application process with a boost of confidence. It is never too early to consider summer activities. However, since no two people are alike, you should not just copy what your friends or relatives are doing, without thinking about it. You must do what fits you and makes you into an outstanding college candidate.
Patrick is a graduate of Phillips Academy (Andover), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston University, and University College London (UCL). He has helped many students apply to top-level boarding schools and universities in the United States.
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