Summer experiences are important, they can expand your knowledge, teach you new skills, provide opportunities to challenge yourself and may help you identify and define your path. Sometimes they can be free, sometimes they will allow you to earn money, and some will require a fee. The most important factor when choosing a summer experience is how much will it benefit you, in regard to growth, skills, and earning income, either now or later. So, get a job, volunteer in your community, take some classes in an area of interest, travel with your family, learn a new skill, or try something that challenges you. Colleges don’t care if you spend the summer at Stanford or work at your local supermarket. They care that you have experiences outside of yourself where you are learning and gaining new insights. Spend your summers doing things that you are interested in, don’t volunteer, apply to a summer program or do an activity because you think that’s what admissions officers want to see, have an experience because it will help you in your life and it is something that you enjoy and will learn from. Devising a summer plan that is unique to you is much more interesting and impactful. It allows you to see how you are different. Many students attend summer programs and have experiences that are the same as the other 100 students participating. That doesn’t help you stand out in a crowd. So if you attend an organized program, make sure you love the topic, and then follow up with unique activities when you return home. Start now to assess your interests, set some goals, and start contacting people and/or researching summer programs. If you are applying to summer programs you may need to complete an essay, ask for letters of recommendation, and possibly send transcripts. When deciding on formal programs you might ask yourself some of these questions: 1. How much time do I have for a summer program? 2. Do I have other summer commitments that I need to work around? Sports, Family Vacations, Work, etc. 3. What’s my budget? How much can I afford? Do I need financial assistance? Some summer programs offer scholarships. Remember, you don’t need to bust the budget to gain new experiences. If going away or attending a formal program is too expensive, don’t do it. Stay in your own community and gain new experiences. 4. Ask yourself why you want to attend or what you hope to accomplish. I have a Big Book of Volunteer, Research, and Summer Programs, if you’d like a copy click here, just say "Send my Big Book!" and I’ll forward it to you. In the meantime, you can Google “Summer Programs for High School Students” and you will find many additional resources. Here are 20 ideas to get you started:
1. Take a cooking class
2. Are you a Girl Scout? Work on your Gold Award. Are you an Eagle Scout? Work on your Eagle Award.
3. Help coach a sports team
4. Teach yourself code.
5. Get a job
6. If you are an athlete you may not have time for much else than practice, tournaments, and showcases. Find small pieces of time to have experiences. Go hiking, visit museums, read, etc.
7. Shadow a doctor, a teacher, an engineer, a business person, etc.
9. Intern with a local company you admire
10. Start a website
11. Share your love of reading and volunteer at the local library
12. Make some college visits
13. Start a book club
14. Organize a fundraiser
15. Attend a leadership program
16. Start a garden in your backyard
17. Research your area of interest
18. Study/Learn or improve your foreign language skills
19. Read as many books as possible
20. Teach yourself how to play a musical instrument or take an art class
As always, contact me with any questions and to learn about how I can help with the application process.