We’ve talked about the importance of summer activities to your applications before. Participating in effective summer activities demonstrates initiative and passion and is a great way to ward off the crushing boredom that usually turns up around mid June. One of the most popular activities is a summer internship, in which a student spends the summer working as a temporary (and often un- or under-paid) employee of a company. Internships are a great way to gain some work experience and further your understanding of a certain field. But contrary to what you might think, internships are not the only way to have a productive summer that will wow admissions committees. Read on to learn how you can have a productive summer, even without a summer internship!

 

Community Service and Volunteer Work

 

One great way to get some work experience and contribute to a cause you’re passionate about is through volunteering. From animal shelters to your local city hall to a nearby nonprofit, there are countless places near you that could use a little extra help. If you’re looking for experience in an office environment, local government or a nonprofit could probably use a passionate, dedicated volunteer; if you like working with kids, animals, or the outdoors, there are community organizations like boys’ and girls’ clubs and the YMCA that are always seeking volunteers.

 

Do some research in your area for charities, summer camps, government offices, and other organizations that might be looking for summer volunteers. Your high school may even hold art, sports, or theatre camps for elementary school kids in your area – be sure to reach out to teachers and look online if you’re interested in getting involved!

 

Typically, private companies do not allow volunteers for legal reasons, except in a few areas, such as any office work related to charity, religion, or public service. If you’re interested in performing volunteer work for a private company, reach out to the human resources department to find out whether there’s any work you could complete as a volunteer.

 

Summer Job

 

Most internship positions allow students to gain work experience in an area where they’d typically need a college degree to work full-time. However, there are plenty of places you can work even as a high school student. Typically, these positions are in retail or food service, but if you have a family friend or member who owns a business or another connection to a certain company, you may be able to perform more typical office work.

 

Whether you’re looking to save up for college or finance sushi outings with your friends, a summer job is a great way to earn money that can also make a nice addition to your college application. Holding down a job as a student requires discipline, commitment, and maturity. Plus, if you form a strong relationship with your boss, he or she may even be able to write an additional letter of recommendation for your college applications.

 

It’s important to note that if you’re looking for summer work, you should apply in May at the latest. Chances are, there are many students in your area looking for summer employment as well, so your best bet is beating the crowd and applying early.

 

Learn a New Skill or Take a College Class

 

You can use a few months off from school as an opportunity to learn a skill you don’t have time to pursue during the school year. If you’ve always wanted to learn to code in Python, or you’re interested in picking up some German, you can take classes at a local community college or online and add a skill to your repertoire that can come in handy in college apps, college itself, and your career.

 

In addition, taking a class at a community college can make a handsome addition to your high school transcript if the course is sufficiently advanced or closely related to your career interests. Even if you’re not taking the class with the intention of boosting your resume, classes at community colleges or adult education centers can be great ways to make new friends, learn new things, and keep yourself busy over the summer.

 

Conduct Research, Author a Paper, Get Writing!

 

Who says you need a teacher to write a paper? Granted, an essay or thesis may not seem like something you’d like to work on while your friends are out enjoying the sunshine, but it can actually be more fun than you might think! If there’s a topic you’ve always been curious about, you can look online or at your local library to see if there are resources you could use to learn a bit more or even author a paper. If you choose to write a paper and it’s good enough, you can speak to local professors about conducting research together or even getting it published!

 

Not only is this a great way to explore academic interests, it can also sharpen your writing skills. If you’re unfamiliar with how to write, format, or cite research in keeping with official formatting guidelines like MLA or APA, this is your opportunity to learn those skills (which you’ll definitely be thanking yourself for in college!). Not to mention this and the other suggestions on this list will help you fight off the brain drain that typically accompanies summer break.

 

Looking to develop your composition skills, but not particularly interested in academic writing? Take a creative writing course or do some on your own! Creative writing is great way to keep your mind sharp and have fun. You can even submit your writing in a contest; there are plenty of creative writing contests for high schoolers that provide scholarships or cash prizes. If you’re interested in journalism, you could submit an article to a local or national publication, or work for your local newspaper as a freelance writer.

 

Explore Your Interests

 

Always wanted to try your hand at writing poetry, but never made the time? Have a book idea that’s never been put to paper? Ardent art admirer but never made anything of your own? Itching to learn guitar but always too busy?  Put an end to that! You might discover a talent you never realized you had, or a great new hobby.

 

This may not be the most impressive option on this list in the eyes of college admissions officers, but it may lead you to discover a talent or interest of which you were previously unaware. One thing adcoms definitely do value in an applicant is passion, and if you find a new interest, stick to it, and develop your skill, it can eventually morph into an integral component of your application. In any case, you’ll push your boundaries and learn way more about yourself trying out new things than you will binge watching Game of Thrones on your couch all summer.

 

Internships are an awesome way to gain work experience and learn new things over the summer, but they’re definitely not the only way. Do some research for opportunities to get involved in your community, take classes, learn new things, and have a productive summer! Even if you’re loath to sacrifice sleeping in till 11 AM every day, you’ll thank yourself come applications season.

Anamaria Lopez

Anamaria Lopez

Managing Editor at CollegeVine Blog
Anamaria is an Economics major at Columbia University who's passionate about sharing her knowledge of admissions with students facing the applications process. When she's not writing for the CollegeVine blog, she's studying Russian literature and testing the limits of how much coffee one single person can consume in a day.
Anamaria Lopez