What Do Colleges Want to See You Do Over the Summer?

Flag waving over McGill University

As admissions to top tier colleges grow difficult each following year, it is essential to build a resume filled with extracurricular activities. Colleges tend to view growth through the course of high school. As an individual moves through grades, they expect a student who is able to manage his or her time, making it very important for students applying to college to balance the hype of summer vacation with obligations to specific events.

The first and foremost criteria colleges look for in the summer is how a student spends their time over an extended period of break. For example, admissions counselors will take note of whether a student is playing video games or “hanging out” with his friends versus helping his or her community through charity work and volunteering. By knowing that an individual is dedicating themselves to giving back to his or her community without compensation, they can ensure that the same individual will promote and give back to their college as an alumni.

However, if compensation is important, then finding a job is always a good idea. Finding work and being committed to a job shows colleges that a prospective applicant can hold a commitment. Furthermore, having a job shows tremendous responsibility and the ability to be independent. Also, it is the colleges’ duty to prepare individuals to join the formal workforce. By showing one’s work experience, it shows that the individual is responsible, self-sufficient, and hard working.

Colleges, before an application is sent, want to know one’s career choice. Going as undecided puts some individuals at a severe disadvantage; however, the vice-versa is also true. By obtaining an internship, it shows colleges that a student is serious about their commitment to a certain field. It also shows that there is less chance of changing majors and not graduating in time.

Over the summer, high school students should also attempt to apply for a high school-college program. By applying to this program, it demonstrates an individual’s interest to that specific institution. Universities like to see these programs on resumes because, once again, they are usually specialized to a specific major. By taking these courses, it shows a college that a student is seriously interested in them and is willing to stay for period of time at the institution. As an added bonus, the university that the student attended may favor a student who has attended this summer program over individuals that have not.

All in all, colleges want individuals to spend their summers productively. Instead of turning on the Xbox, try to find a local church or camp where volunteering opportunities are available. If not, try to obtain an internship in a field that you’re interested in or find a job that’s more local. There is nothing wrong with taking a break during the summer, but it is also a good idea to keep up on some responsibilities. All of these things appeal significantly to colleges and greatly increase the odds of acceptance to prestigious institutions. However, remember to not get too wrapped up in what you think colleges want to see. Colleges can tell right away when someone has loaded their resume with activities that are supposed to appeal to college admissions. Try to stay true to your own likes and interests while still keeping busy during the summer. Have a great vacation!


Anna Meringolo
staff writer

Graphic: Amelia Chen

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