Step Up Your College Apps Profile With These 11 Summer Activities
Once you’ve entered high school, every summer becomes about your college applications. Instead of sitting around during the summer or taking some fun camps like you used to, you need to do something meaningful or impactful that will look good on your college applications. This can include charity work, paid employment, taking on a personal project, and more!
The things you do during your high school summers should be directly translatable to your college resume. There are a multitude of summer activities out there that allow you to do this. Here are some of our best suggestions for what you should this summer to increase your chances of getting into college.
1. Take College Classes
Taking college classes over the summer shows colleges that you are serious about your college education and have already started building the skills that you will need to succeed in your academic area of interest. In addition, it is a great financial move for you and your family.
College classes taken over the summer are generally much cheaper than classes taken in college itself. The fees are reduced, and there are no pesky costs like tuition, room and board, and other costs associated with actually attending a college.
If you want to know where to take college courses, check your local community colleges to see what classes they offer over the summer. You may also be able to take some classes online via a college or university so that you can learn in the comfort of your own home. Need some help figuring out whether you should take college classes this summer? Our previous blog post on the topic might help you out.
2. Get a Job
Once you turn 16, you are eligible to work in most states. You may not get a fabulous job that pays a lot of money, but you’d be a prime candidate to work at local businesses, restaurants, grocery stores, and even some companies that hire high school interns. If you’re unsure how to navigate your job search, we have the perfect guide for you!
The benefits of getting a job are two-fold. First, you get to earn some money that you can save to pay for college or perhaps even to buy yourself something nice in the near future. Second, you get to show colleges that you are a viable candidate for the workforce. You have shown a college that you have employable skills like time management, organization, self-discipline, and more.
3. Join a High School Program at a University
Many big-name colleges like MIT, Stanford, and Duke hold specialized summer programs for high school students. These programs give high school students valuable experience living on a college campus, learning something new on an advanced level, and perhaps even contributing to an academic field in some way. These programs vary depending on the college, and they cover a wide range of academic interests. If this sounds interesting to you, do some research and see which program fits your academic and personal interests.
Not convinced that a high school summer program would be right for you? Here are 7 more reasons why you should participate in a summer program.
Keep in mind that there are usually costs and fees associated with participating in these programs. If it is a prestigious program, there may even be an application fee and deadline. It is best to do your research sooner rather than later so that you can figure out this information without missing any due dates. If you’re unsure where to start your research, try our ultimate guide to high school summer programs.
4. Do Charity/Volunteer Work
Colleges love to see that you care about your community and have done your part to make it a better place. A great way to show this is to spend a summer donating your time to doing local or national charity work.
You can do charity work on your own by creating and executing your own service projects or by getting involved in a local or national charity organization. You can also help our your community by volunteering in local community centers like your local library, homeless shelter, hospital, etc.
Here are some ideas for charitable contributions you can make over the summer
- Volunteering at the local food bank
- Volunteering your time at a soup kitchen
- Interning at the local chapter of a national charity organization
- Volunteering at the local library
- Cleaning up trash in your community and beaches
- Participating in group charity events like Habitat For Humanity
For more information on how to pursue charity work this summer, see our previous blog post on finding volunteer opportunities. For more ideas on what community service projects you can pursue, check out these ideas for community service work.
5. Apply for an Internship
Companies that hire high school students are few and far between, so those internships are ultra-competitive. However, if you can procure an internship opportunity and gain that valuable work experience over the summer, colleges will be genuinely impressed when they look at your college resume.
The best ways to find those ultra-competitive high school internships are to use your connections (parents, friends, other adult community members) to see if any company could find/make a temporary position for you. You should also continuously check your local job boards for opportunities in companies that hire high school interns. Here are some cool internship opportunities to get you started.
Most companies finish recruiting by March or April, so it’s best to start looking for those internships sooner rather than later so that you don’t miss any deadlines. For more tips on how to land that ultra-competitive internship, check out our expert advice.
6. Join a Research Project
Local colleges and some companies have a research division where scientists and other academic professionals conduct research and studies relating to a certain topic of interest. Sometimes, those companies allow high school students to come in and perform some basic functions like reading through related studies, setting up basic experiments, and other small but helpful tasks.
Many of the research projects you will find will be geared towards the biological or physical sciences. If you’re thinking about going the pre-med route or a pre-health route, this would be a great experience for you to pursue.
7. Start Your Own Business
If you have a novel idea for a product or service that you think could help your community or society in general, summer is the perfect time for you to try and develop that idea and possibly turn it into a successful prototype/business. After all, you don’t have the stress and extra time commitments that you have during the school year, so you can devote all of your time to making sure this idea come to fruition. As long as you have something to show for your business at the end of the summer, you can consider this worth putting on your college resume.
If you need some guidance on how to go about starting your own business, check out our guide on how to start your own business in high school.
8. Shadow Someone In Your Profession Of Interest
If you already have an idea of what career path you want to go on, try to learn more about what that career entails by shadowing someone of that profession for a summer. Shadowing means that you will watch and possibly take notes on what a professional in your career of interest does on a day-to-day basis.
This will give you a great idea of whether this job or career path is truly right for you, and you might even get to learn some employable techniques and skills that’ll help you in the future. Shadowing is most common in the medical or health-related professions, but feel free to reach out to community members you know in other industries to see if they would allow a high school student to shadow their employees.
9. Pursue a Personal Project
Have you been wanting to write a novel but haven’t had time because of homework? Have you been wanting to start your own website or travel blog? Is there a prototype for the next great invention that you just haven’t had the time to create a model for yet? Summer is the perfect time for you to pursue these personal projects, let your creativity shine, and finally create something to show for your efforts.
If your personal project is going to be noteworthy on your college resume, however, you need to have something to show for it at the end of the summer. For example, you need to have written the novel and be working on getting it published or have the travel blog up and running for the general public to see.
10. Visit Colleges
While we at CollegeVine don’t recommend that you spend your entire summer doing this, you should definitely consider using some free time during the summer to explore different universities and colleges to help narrow down your college list.
College campuses are fairly empty over the summer, so if you make college visits during this time, you’d have the opportunity to really explore the campus without the distraction of a bunch of college students trying to learn. The downside is that you may not get to sit in on a class or meet with as many professors or department heads as you could have during the school year.
For more information about college visits and the best time to do them, check our 8 tips on the subject.
11. Study for College Entrance Exams
Again, you shouldn’t spend your entire summer doing this, but you should definitely consider spending a few hours a day studying for exams like the SAT or ACT. While you may not be taking the exam for a while, it’s going to get much harder to dedicate the necessary amount of time to studying once you have classes and extracurriculars to deal with during the school year. So if you start now, you’ll have plenty of time to study and be prepared by the time that test date comes around.
If you need some guidance on studying for these exams, see 6 Things You Can Do Today To Improve Your SAT/ACT Score.
For More Information
Need more help figuring out your summer activities? Check out these previous blog posts:
Want access to expert college guidance — for free? When you create your free CollegeVine account, you will find out your real admissions chances, build a best-fit school list, learn how to improve your profile, and get your questions answered by experts and peers—all for free. Sign up for your CollegeVine account today to get a boost on your college journey.
Want more tips on improving your academic profile?
We'll send valuable information to help you strengthen your profile and get ready for college admissions.