Boost Your Resume
Colleges, camps, and professional organizations offer a wide variety of programs— some focus on academics, some teach leadership techniques, and some help build character and general life skills.
BY: June Garzon
Summer is a great time to explore opportunities that can be fun for you AND appealing to college admissions officers. Colleges, camps, and professional organizations offer a wide variety of programs— some focus on academics, some teach leadership techniques, and some help build character and general life skills. Any program that advances your personal development usually looks great in the eyes of admissions decision-makers.
Some colleges allow you to take courses online and/or on campus during the summer. The biggest advantage is that you can gain college credit and get a jumpstart on your degree. On-campus summer programs are a great way to check out various college campuses and explore the experience of living in dorms, attending college classes, and eating in the dining hall. A few options include: University of Alabama Early College, Duke Summer Sessions, and Savannah College of Art and Design Summer Programs.
College admissions officers look favorably on students who pursue and exhibit leadership skills. Colleges throughout the country offer summer leadership programs for high school students— a few examples include: Auburn University’s High School Leadership Conference, The University of Alabama’s Capstone Leadership Academy, and Ole Miss’s Apex Leadership Summit. Remember: Attending a college’s summer leadership program does not mean you have to attend that particular college. The leadership skills you acquire will follow you to any college you choose. There are also local and regional athletic, religious, and gender-oriented leadership programs, including: Youth and Teens programs offered by the YMCA, Youth Programs sponsored by Made in Alabama, and Leadership Development Programs offered by Common Ground Montgomery.
Traveling opens your eyes and mind to different cultures, and it’s a great opportunity to practice being away from home. Some colleges offer summer travel adventures to high school students. For example, Hillsdale College offers high school students the opportunity to study abroad with their faculty while earning Hillsdale College credit. There are also travel organizations that offer adventures specific to high school students, and some award college credit. Oxbridge Academic Programs has coordinated trips for high school students for over 30 years, and Exceptional Educational Journeys offers trips throughout the world focused on a variety of topics including leadership projects, language immersion, and sports.
Most smaller and more selective colleges want to see how an incoming freshman will enhance their college environment. One way to determine a student’s expected college participation is to evaluate that student’s involvement in their present community. Community service is an excellent way to show college admissions officers that you are committed to helping others and being involved. There are a multitude of community service options available to high school students— it’s best to choose a project you’re really interested in. If you love animals, you may wish to volunteer at a local humane society or a zoo. If you’re more academically inclined, you may want to volunteer at a public library or a literacy center. If you’re interested in medicine, you may enjoy assisting a medical outreach ministry or a hospice program. If you want to help individuals in need, try volunteering at a local family organization or a food bank.
No matter what you choose, being involved in any form of enriching experience during the summer is important. Not only does involvement help you grow as a person, but it also enhances your personal repertoire, which can be looked upon favorably by college admissions representatives.
June Garzon is an associate member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and a member of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).