It’s chilly here, so summer seems a long way off but for high school sophomores and juniors especially, NOW is the time to craft a summer plan that includes an academic focus. Colleges look for kids who are active learners, those who spend their free time pursuing fresh intellectual ideas in their academic area. Students should think about how to build on their academic/scholarly interests and go above and beyond this summer.
For a student who loves research, that might entail five weeks doing research in a lab. Here’s an example from a student we worked with who utilized his sophomore and junior summers in a great way. Colleges saw that CLEARLY on his application he compiled in our Application Boot Camp program and he’s now headed to an Ivy League school this August. Note the summer programs he took part in sophomore and junior summers:
Stanford Summer Humanities Institute (Summer 2015, 3 weeks): 1 of 50 high school students selected to enroll in a college-level course at Stanford.
UCSB Research Mentorship Program, Research Assistant (Summer 2016, 6 weeks).
The Stanford Summer Humanities Institute 2017 application is now open AND so is UC Santa Barbara’s Research Mentorship Summer 2017 Program application.
- Worried about the expense? There is a scholarship program for the UC Summer Program! This is NOT just for privileged students.
- Worried about having to wait a long time to hear back? They’ll let you know your status in in 3 weeks! If only college admissions officers made their decisions that fast!
- Worried about how you’ll craft your 500 word personal statement? Let us help! Our 5-hour Essay Guidance Program can be used for summer program application essays and activity sheet preparation and we’d love to assist you!
We urge students to pick a program based on their interests for the love of learning. If you are a student interested in astronomy, for instance, you may not find an appropriate course at your local college, but the Harvard Secondary School Summer Program may be perfect as they offer 3 courses:
- Space Exploration and Astrobiology: The Search for Life in the Cosmos
- A Short Tour of the Universe Guided by Einstein and Others
- Fundamentals of Contemporary Astronomy: Planets, Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe
All 3 are right up Michele’s alley as she enjoys stargazing with her Dobsonian telescope. Apply and get into the Harvard summer program this spring, then take courses 1 and 3 above Tuesdays and Thursdays for 7 weeks this summer, and you’ll start school this fall having earned 8 college credits. That shows colleges you’re ready for college-level coursework AND that you’re taking the initiative to excel in your scholarly niche.
MORAL OF THE (SUMMER) STORY
The moral of the story is search for what you really want to study—if the best class on impressionism happens to be at your local community college or state university, that’s fine. Don’t focus on the name brand of the program but on what the program actually covers.
What’s your main academic interest? Pinpoint that and make your summers, especially if you’re a current sophomore or junior, count! Deepen your area of academic interest by taking a college level course or reaching out to a professor for research opportunities. Remember, you will not only add to your academic heft by including a college transcript (the Common App asks for this! You don’t want to check the box stating you don’t have 1!) or research experience on your college applications, you will also have more scholarly experiences to write about in your college admissions essays.