How to Plan For A Purposeful Summer

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The summer plans and activities you choose to pursue can be a complete game changer in your college admissions process. In addition to grades and test scores, the extracurricular activities you pursue outside the classroom are some of the important criteria colleges look at while making admissions decisions. From an admissions perspective a desirable college applicant should demonstrate qualities such as passion, leadership, initiative, commitment, responsibility and service. Admissions officers are not necessarily looking for students to pursue a wide variety of extracurricular activities, but like to see consistency, quality and depth in the few experiences the student is most passionate about. Careful consideration is given to specifics of how much time the student has invested in the activity and how deeply they have explored the areas of their interest.

Ideally you would begin by exploring a wide range of activities starting 9thgrade.  However, beginning of 10th grade you might want to narrow it down and commit to pursuing only one or two that you feel most passionate about. Over 11 th and 12thgrade continue to refine and furthur drill down the areas of your interest. Each summer dive a little deeper into the activities you are most passionate about, making sure that each years’ experience build’s on the previous one. The key would be to stay consistent with the activity, diving a little deeper each time to continue building on the quality of your experiences.

Before making any concrete plans for the summer, take the time to reflect on who you are, what your passions are, how can you deepen those interests and how can you challenge yourself to grow and prepare for the next phase in your life. You can take a personality and career assessment here. If you are unsure of which major to pursue do explore the Bigfuture website for majors and careers you might be interested in learning more about. It is also essential to set specific goals for what you want to achieve and also think about how much time are you willing to invest in the activities you choose.

Find out if a summer program is a good match in terms of your geographic preferences, affordability, curriculum and age ranges of teens in the program. It should also align with your personality and individual learning style as well. Competitive summer programs fill up fast, make sure to send in that application sooner rather than later.

I would recommend pursuing at least two significant activities the summer before senior year. Depending on your interest you could choose to explore your current academic interests further, by taking a college level course online or at your local community college. Consider getting involved in volunteering or community service activities that matter to you. You can further explore your careers of interest by job shadowing, internships and work opportunities. You can choose to spend your summer attending a camp or pre-college program at a college you are considering attending.

Think outside the box and explore creative and unusual connections between your current academic interests and activities that you find interesting, meaningful and fun. For example, you can combine two different experiences, like explore your interest in Computer Science and Entrepreneurship by working at a technology startup, gaining technical expertise while learning the business aspect of getting a product to market. Another example would be to combine your interests in music and community service by performing at a senior community center.

Whatever you do, use summer as a time to explore your interests in-depth and pick activities that matter to you. Continue to grow by challenging yourself academically, learning new skills and making new friends. Most importantly enjoy your summer, striking the right balance between meaningful and fun!

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