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  • Writer's pictureKate Pedigo, M.Ed., NCC

College Planning: Summer Activities


Teens hiking in summer
Summer plans should incorporate fun and relaxation.

Early spring is a popular time for students and parents to plan summer activities, and parents often ask me about summer activities that will help students with college admission.


While I am always happy to help students and their families choose appropriate summer activities related to college planning, we also talk about ways in which family time, relaxation, and fun fit into the larger summer plan. Students need balance, especially in the summer when they need to recharge for the school year.


Assuming that your family has plans for summer downtime on the agenda, here are some suggestions for summer activities related to college planning:


Summer employment- People often overlook part-time jobs in favor of more "prestigious" activities, but college admissions committees consider a job to be an excellent extracurricular activity. Working demonstrates commitment, reliability, and responsibility. Employment can definitely be added to a college application activities list, and students should be sure to list the ways in which they contribute.


Man being pushed in wheelchair

Responsibilities- Students might need to take on more family responsibilities during the summer. Caring for younger siblings, helping ailing grandparents, etc. are very legitimate summer activities and can be included in a college application activities list if the experience is meaningful to the student.



Year-round activities- Athletes, musicians, artists, coders, debaters, etc. often need to continue their school-year activities into the summer to continue to grow and develop in their activity. College applications give students the opportunity to indicate how many hours per week and weeks per year they devote to each activity, so a year-round commitment can be noted.


Academic/interest camps- These are great opportunities to learn more about potential majors or dig deeper into other areas of interest. To admissions committees, these activities often demonstrate a desire to gain knowledge and skills and explore options. These types of activities don't tend to have a huge impact on admissions, however, unless the experience results in something tangible, like a completed project, designs to add to a portfolio, or college credit. The main goal for these activities should be to learn and grow, rather than to do something that looks good on college applications.


Research- This pops up as an option for more and more students each year. Research can be a great extracurricular activity, but quality opportunities can be tough to find for high schoolers. Students who participate in summer research should be able to clearly articulate their specific contributions in their college application activities list.


Test prep- Students typically have fewer obligations in the summer and more time to devote to improving their ACT/SAT scores. Rising juniors and seniors can study over the summer and take official exams in late summer/early fall.


Young man woodworking

Hobbies- Just like part-time jobs, hobbies are often overlooked by students as extracurriculars of value in the college application process.


Hobbies can be developed and utilized as vehicles to demonstrate growth, creativity, contribution to the community, and even leadership.


Volunteerism- Quality over quantity matters here. College admissions committees prefer to see volunteer activities where students demonstrate legitimate interest and commitment. Finding creative ways to contribute, share talents, make positive change, and/or lead can be impactful.


Summer classes- Some students decide to take courses during the summer, either to move ahead in a subject like Math, or to free up space in their school year schedule for classes of interest.


College tours- Ideally, students can attend at least some college tours in the school year, when they can get the best feel for campus culture. It's just not possible for most students to fit all of their desired tours into the school year, so the summer is a great time to visit colleges.


Begin work on college applications- For rising seniors, the summer is a great time to work on those applications. Ideally, by the time senior year starts, students are largely finished with everything except maybe some of their supplemental essays.


At Growing2College, we are happy to help with any step of the college planning and application process. Request a free 20-min consultation to learn more about how we can be helpful.


Kate Pedigo, M.Ed. NCC is an Independent Educational Consultant and founder of Growing2College. Join us on social media for college planning updates, tips, and resources: Facebook   Instagram   LinkedIn    



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