Prep Talk Blog > July 2009

With so many unstructured weeks ahead, what exactly should you be spending your summer doing? In addition to familiarizing yourself with the admissions process, you should pursue activities that are meaningful to you or deepen your knowledge of a pre-existing interest. Don't be concerned with trying to impress admissions officers. They're after students who are genuinely committed to exploring their passions, not students who are merely resume-building. To make the most of your summer, keep in mind the following options:

Volunteer. Julie Manhan says: "This is a great way to try your hand at something new or get experience in a field you’re interested in.  If you can’t find something you like, look for a need and be creative.  There may be a neighbor who could use help with yard work or a child who needs someone to help him improve his math skills.  Get your friends involved.  Maybe you could organize a food drive in your neighborhood to benefit your local food bank.  The only limit is your imagination."

Join a summer camp or take a class. Teen Diaries Blog writes: "There is a summer camp for almost everything from sports to art. Try contacting local colleges or universities for camps specializing in a specific major you’re interested in. These will allow you to take classes in the field of work you plan to pursue and gain the campus experience which is pretty cool!" 

Expand your cultural knowledge. Dave Barry at CollegeView believes: "Summer seems to invite students to turn off their brains and recline into three months of MTV, game shows, video games, and soap opera digest.  Don’t be one of those.  Go to the library and check out some classics or some poetry.  Stimulate your brain.  Even if you can make it through only one good book this summer, you’ll be ahead of the game."

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Summer may have officially begun, but for fall college applicants, this is just the pre-season to admissions. Now's the time to get a headstart on the process and make things easier come autumn. With three months of vacation, students can kick back, relax, and still have plenty of time to get ready for the piles of applications that await. Here are some tips on how to maximize your productivity this summer and make the fall a breeze:

Get experience. suggests: "There are opportunities for unpaid internships, local community volunteer programs, domestic or foreign volunteer programs, community college courses, high school advanced credit courses, and other pursuits."

Explore your college options. Such A Smart Mom says: "Be sure to factor in your GPA and any SAT or ACT test results as you narrow your choices. If you have certain schools in mind, spend time looking over their websites. The National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator has great information about graduation rates, freshman student retention rates, admittance rates and financial aid awards for colleges. Simply type in the name of a school near the top of the page in the section aptly labeled Name of School."

Sneak in a campus tour. Steve Cohen at lets us in on a secret: "One real plus of summer visits is that some colleges only conduct personal interviews during the summer months. That’s because admissions officers are usually on the road in the fall visiting high schools. So check ahead and see if the colleges you’re considering will schedule an interview." 

Create a resume. Michael Streich writes: "Summertime offers many undisturbed hours to gather four-year’s worth of high school accolades in order to develop a resume. Students should bear in mind that many applications will have separate forms listing extracurricular activities and volunteerism."

Have fun. MyUSearch Blog offers the following parting advice: "Use the summer to really reflect on the things that you hold most valuable. If you could do anything, without commitments for one full week, what would it be? When you have that answer, ask yourself why you value that activity so much and think about how college will help make this activity more than just something you can do in your free time.

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Do you think it's fair if college admissions professionals "google" you or look at your Facebook profile during the admissions process?
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Don Munce