What should I do with my summer?

Dear QB: What should I be doing the summer before my senior year?

summer_jobsThe summer before your senior year of high school is the last opportunity you will have to significantly change your college application. Use this time to take advantage of an opportunity that is related to your academic interests. Admissions officers are looking for students who show passion and engagement beyond their words – students who can back their stated interests with action.

There are many ways you make your summer count, including:

  • Interning with a company of your choice
  • Assisting in a research lab
  • Working part- or full-time
  • Volunteering in your community
  • Working as a camp counselor
  • Building your own project or organization
  • Learning a new skillset, online or in person

Important note: if you’re a low-income student who will be working to contribute to family funds or taking care of other family responsibilities over the summer, don’t worry! This is will not negatively impact your college application. In fact, you should be sure to note or talk more about this in your application. Make sure the reader is able to understand the scope of your family responsibilities and how those might have prevented you from exploring other options.

If you are unable to devote your summer to pursuing your academic interests, you might still be able to find small ways to weave them in. This will be all the more impressive in light of your other responsibilities or duties. For example, a student working full time at a fast food restaurant and also taking online coding lessons stands out for their drive and impressive time management. Similarly, a student who is responsible for their siblings during the week, but spends weekends volunteering at a community center will stand out.

There is certainly something to be said for taking some personal time during the summer to recoup and prepare for the coming year, and we do encourage you to take some time for yourself! However, from our experience, students who use this summer wisely and show continued motivation and drive are students who will stand out in the fall.