Summer is around the corner and many families are crossing the final “t’s” and dotting the final “i’s” of their plans. For many high school students however, the pressure to have a summer that is filled with non-stop activities, programs, or travel plans can sometimes get in the way of the most important part of the two-month break: Resting and rejuvenating.


For high school students who work diligently during the school year to perform their best academically, socially, athletically, professionally, and more, the summer is a time for a reprieve, a chance to breathe, and a chance to reevaluate. For too many though, summer has turned into days and weeks of activities that are neither relaxing nor rejuvanting. Instead they become things that go on a resume or activity list in hopes that a college will find it valuable.


While the summer cannot be a time to just lounge around and do nothing, it needs to be a time that is purposeful and authentic: A time to explore new ideas, new experiences, and a chance to change course when warranted. There are many resources available to students and families about what to do with the summer months, but as it relates to the college application process, here are some suggestions that create a great balance between being purposeful and being fulfilling.


Have your student do what they love or at the very least, explore opportunities they might really like a lot

By investing time in their talents and interests, a student is more likely to obtain an advanced level of commitment and an increased set of skills useful for their continued success in high school, college, and beyond. Colleges enjoy seeing not the quantity of experiences but quality experiences that a student is excited to share with them.


Finding a job is a good thing

Internships, shadowing, volunteering are all great experiences and buzzwords that students hear very often both in and out of school, but few hear the word: Job.  For students who are old enough, securing employment can be invaluable since it not just enhances important life skills, but also represents to college admission officers that a student is assuming a certain sense of financial responsibility. Furthermore, a regular paycheck is a great motivator.


Visit college campuses and even start applications a bit earlier than August

One of the most challenging aspects of applying to college is deciding where to apply. Take time to visit a wide variety of colleges and use the summer to do this. Take tours and attend information sessions. If you are traveling as a family, find a local college and go visit. You never know what gems you might stumble upon and learning about different resources, college types, and academic programs might help your student identify factors that are important to them as they create their final college list.


Do something different, but do not do something because you think someone else might like it

The summer is an excellent time to explore new opportunities and interests. Some might turn out to be very beneficial and some might end up being the last time they are tried. Encourage your student to choose activities that they enjoy and not what they think might look good on their resume. Colleges and even employers can tell when someone speaks or writes with passion about an experience. Encourage authenticity in your student and tell them to find opportunities that are appealing to them and not what is the most popular among their social circle or what they perceive a college might like.


About the author

Dana Ponsky is the senior college admissions consultant with NYC Admissions Solutions. Learn more about how Dana supports NYC families and be sure to sign up for our FREE college newsletter here.

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