College & Workforce Readiness

Colleges Want Applicants to Have Meaningful Summer Activities

By Caralee J. Adams — June 08, 2012 1 min read

In the summer, many parents want their high school students to build a college resume and obsess over the question: What’s the best thing to do to get into college?

Experts caution there are two things wrong with this approach. First, it’s the students who should be deciding what to do in the summer. And, secondly, their choice shouldn’t be driven by what they think will wow an admissions officer or it may not look authentic.

There are a growing number of summer academic programs offered on college campuses and such an experience can be a plus in the application process. But a meaningful summer experience doesn’t have to be costly. A minimum-wage job and volunteering can also teach important life skills, according to college counselors.

What many admissions officers say they are looking for is how the students’ activities—including those in the summer—helped them discover a passion. The key is for students to be able to reflect and relate those experiences in their applications.

Keeping a journal in the summer, as students travel or participate in service projects, can help provide the details to make an essay come to life. Reading, from the classics to the daily newspaper, can also be eye-opening for high school students and an affordable form of summer enrichment.

For more on ideas for a productive summer and the perspective of admissions officers on the topic, go to Summer Activities Build College Resumes.

A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.