Summer is just right around the corner, and for many high schoolers, this is the time to really take advantage of the free time you have to show colleges that you are taking advantage of summer break to be productive and pursue your interests.
Whether you express this by doing something like learning a new language or getting a job, there are many ways that you can use this upcoming summer to stand out in your college applications.
With that being said, here are five great ways that you can use this time to stand out during college application season.
1. Find an Internship/Job
Applying for internships and jobs is a great way to gain notable work experience. By committing yourself to a job, you are allowing yourself to learn how to learn more about communicating with other people and staying on top of tasks and due dates. Some jobs may differ, and it is up to you to decide which one is best.
If you are looking for work experience directly related to your intended major, it would be a great idea to look for an internship on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn provides a user interface that allows students to connect with different fields of interest and obtain updates when there are job or internship applications that may be applicable to them. In addition, creating a LinkedIn account also helps you build connections in the world industry -- whether that be with your friends or with potential employers.
If you are simply looking to gain any experience in the work industry, on the other hand, then it would be of interest to consider local businesses and restaurants. There are many businesses that are hiring students, and you can truly utilize these opportunities to not only make some extra cash on the side but also gain valuable experience in the work industry.
Another viable option to consider is looking for shadowing opportunities. These opportunities are meant to help students interested in certain fields, such as biology, have a perspective of what work would actually look like for an occupation such as a doctor. Some people will allow you to come into the building and let you help them and oversee their work, which is certainly beneficial when trying to gain more experience within a certain industry.
2. Take Online Classes
For many high schoolers, local community colleges offer ways for students to gain college credit ahead of time.
Since school is out, and AP classes aren't a viable option, taking classes at a local college is a great way to not only gain early credit but also show colleges that you are academically committed even during your break from school.
However, it is important to remember not to overload on these classes as the difficulty may deviate from high school courses.
3. Pursue Your Own Project
If taking extra classes or getting a job may be too time-consuming for you, then consider starting your own project.
The best part about the summer is that you have the time to do virtually anything, whether it is writing a novel or becoming a lifeguard at the pool. If you are looking to start a project related to your major, it would also be a considerable idea to contact professors and get involved with research.
When starting a project, it is important to have a solidified vision for it before you begin.
Ask yourself questions that will help you have an idea of how much you want to accomplish in a given amount of time: What are the short-term goals? What are the long-term goals? What resources can you take advantage of to make this possible? Are there any programs nearby that could help you?
Asking yourself these types of questions will help you further exceed expectations as you are giving yourself an actual plan rather than going in with no expectations.
4. Study for the SAT or ACT
Even with colleges going test-optional for the next couple of years, it is still important that you do your best to take and do well on the college entrance exams. If you do well, these tests can help you stand out among your peers during college admissions and show the admissions officers that you took the time to study and prepare for these tests, thus further demonstrating academic excellence.
When studying for the exams, it is important that you create an effective schedule that will maximize your time without stressing yourself out too much; after all, it is summer. Some great recommendations for studying include practicing on Khan Academy and taking the released tests to obtain a better understanding of how much more you need to prepare.
When taking an actual test, it is highly recommended that you try to simulate the exact environment of the exam: wear a mask, give yourself breaks between sections, use a #2 pencil, and give it your all.
The important thing is that you use this time to study, but you want to refrain from dedicating all of your free time to doing so.
The summer is meant to give students a well-deserved break to relax and spend time doing the things that they enjoy, whether it be traveling or going to the pool. In other words, try to be productive but not too productive.
One of the best ways to benefit yourself while making an impact is through volunteering work. Especially right now with the current circumstances, there are many opportunities for students to make a positive impact on the community. Some organizations, for example, let volunteers help distribute COVID-relief packages and kits to those who have been severely affected by the pandemic.
By volunteering, you are not only staying productive and obtaining extra hours, but you are also making a difference in the lives of many.
If you are looking to volunteer but are unsure of where to look, it would be a great idea to email your counselor or student services director as they are likely to have connections to volunteer-oriented organizations. If that doesn't work, you can always start your own project and do something such as picking up trash at your local park or the beach.
With summer coming up in just a few months, it is important to consider how you will make use of the time to stand out during the college admissions season. Aside from giving yourself the break you truly deserve for your academic efforts, it is necessary that you avoid falling into a state of laziness and ineffectuality. There are many ways you can truly take advantage of this summer, so start considering your options!