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4 Summer Activities to Help You Stand Out on Your College Applications

Its junior year of high school and you’re trying to figure out what to do for that pivotal summer before senior year. You know it’s important. After all, it’s a common question for supplemental essays you’ll encounter on your college applications this Fall, so what do you do?

Here are four ideas for activities that will help you stand out for college admissions:

1. Get a Job - Working a paid job over the summer demonstrates responsibility, persistence, and diligence and if you can find a job that demonstrates humility, that’s even better! Given the push for diversity lately, if you can find a job in which you get to interact with those that are different from you, it may also provide inspiration for future essays you write.

Given that college students usually look for jobs upon returning home from school in May, try to get a head start, by applying for jobs in April. Try looking for work in your local neighborhood - it can be at the local grocery store, mall, or restaurant. The best way to find something is to get in there and ask the manager if they are hiring. It will also give you an opportunity to practice your communication and interviewing skills.

2. Volunteer – Similar to getting a job, volunteering in your local community demonstrates all of the above, but on top of it, it also gives admissions glimpse into your character and what you care about. Given last year’s new focus on “niceness,” participating in volunteer activities that relate to your interests and demonstrate your time commitment and level of involvement are all great ways to show admissions your concern for others.

Many students ask if they need to go abroad to volunteer and the truth is, it is better to volunteer and give back locally. If there is an organization that you’re particularly fond of, reach out to them and see how you can get involved. Volunteer opportunities also fill up fast, so try to reach out to different organizations as soon as possible.

3. Start Something – Colleges love students who take initiative! Maybe you can’t find an organization that does what you would love to do? Well, that’s the perfect reason to start one! Whether it be starting your own business, non-profit, or other activity, starting your own thing provides you with instant leadership and demonstrates your entrepreneurial spirit.

If you’re apprehensive about start something on your own, think about starting something with a friend of yours who shares your interest. It doesn’t have to be fancy. For example, you could start a chess club at your local library where you not only host times for people to play together, but perhaps you offer coaching sessions to little kids to introduce them to chess too. It can be anything – just start something – the sooner the better!

4. Dive into Your Passions – The main theme for your activities should be related to what you are passionate about – academically, personally, and professionally. The summer is a great time to either continue to further deepen your involvement in these areas or to further explore them. For example, if you are interested in studying business, but your school doesn’t offer any business classes, consider participating in summer programs or activities that would enable you to explore that interest further, whether it be a weeklong educational program or an opportunity to shadow someone in an industry you are interested in going into. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money either. And remember, if you are interested in attending a summer program at a college or university, do it because you genuinely like the program and not because you think it will improve your chances of getting accepted by the school – because it doesn’t.

Can you find the common theme between these four activities? Whatever you do, it should be about YOUR interests and YOUR growth as a person! They are also all opportunities that will hopefully inspire stories for you to share on your supplemental essays. Now is a great time to get started as deadlines for summer programs, jobs, and volunteer opportunities come up soon! What did you end up doing for the summer? Would love to hear from you in the comments below!


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